My Reasons

My Reasons

This Is Where It All Begins

This Is Where It All Begins

Monday, January 27, 2014

Lady Antebellum

For Ben's Birthday, in October, I bought us tickets to go see one of our favorite bands, Lady Antebellum, in concert, in Salt Lake.

The concert was supposed to be in November, but it was postponed until this last weekend, so we celebrated much later than anticipated, but it was worth it.  The concert was awesome!

My mom drove up to watch our children, and it was nice not to worry about them.  We went to dinner at Olive Garden, and reminisced about our memories of eating there when Ben and I would visit back and forth before his mission.  It seems like yesterday, but also, it doesn't.  Kind of crazy! 

The concert was in the Salt Palace, and we were able to shuttle over there.

The concert started at 8:00, but the two singers that opened for them (who were great), took a while, so Lady Antebellum didn't come out until 10:00!

I don't really know how to describe it.  The music was crazy loud, the band was absolutely unbelievable, the singers were awesome, of course, and the extra things they did made it go from completely awesome, to unbelievably amazing!  It was so much fun!

We are now hooked on this whole concert thing, and we are looking into other bands that we love, to see when they will be here next.

Happy Birthday Ben!  Anything is fun with you.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

say what?...part 2

Luke had his appointment with the ENT specialist this morning.

I was pretty worried that we would come away not having any answers and even more worried about Luke's speech.

That was not the case, and I am so relieved!

 I finally feel at peace with Luke's ears and speech issues.  It has been on my mind and on my mother radar for quite some time now.

The doctor/specialist is great, and he is the one that put Luke's tubes in last year. 

He said that Luke's left ear tube was out, and just sitting there in his ear canal.  Good for nothing, but tickling Luke's ear and driving him nuts. That would explain why Luke has been digging and itching that ear.  Ugh, can you imagine how annoying that would be! Poor kid. 
The doctor just got some tweezers and pulled it right out.

He even put it in some tape and gave it to us to take home.  I am not sure what to do with it, so it is still just in my wallet.  Yup, I will go to pay for groceries, and there will be Luke's gunky tube hanging from my wallet.  :)

His right tube is still in, but it is blocked, and therefore good for a whole lot of nothing.  We don't know how long it has been this way, but my hunch is that it has been quite a while.  If Luke had another ear infection, we would not have known, because nothing would have been able to drain out of the tube.

Both of Luke's eardrums are floating around in some nasty, thick fluid, that is absolutely affecting his hearing.  This has been the case since Luke was an infant.  The doctor said he didn't even need to do a hearing test to know that Luke's hearing is being greatly jeopardized because of this fluid, and therefore affecting his speech...or lack of.

Best news is...there is a solution!  And it is easy!

Luke is going to Primary Children's in a few weeks, to get his tubes put back in.  Well, his left tube put back in, and his right tube replaced.

The doctor is also going to remove his adenoid, not his tonsils, just his adenoids.  That is most likely the culprit of all of his infections and fluid and junk.

The surgery is 30 minutes tops, and has no painful recovery time.  He will be fine as soon as we are home.

The doctor said that Luke's speech should take off once this is all taken care of and the fluid is gone.   He has seen it before, in numerous cases like ours.

It is not too late, and Luke won't need speech therapy either.

I am so relieved and so happy for Luke.  Just a few more weeks of this poor guy hearing like he is underwater, and then it will all be clear for him.

A whole new world awaits him!

ski day

Every once in a blue moon, an opportunity presents itself for me to join Ben and the kids for a snow skiing trip.

This weekend presented one of those opportunities, and it was great!

The weather was gorgeous!  The sky was blue and the sun was out.  To me, a sun lover (not heat...just sun), it rejuvenated my spirit that has been suffocating in these dreary, long January days.

The morning started out nuts as we tried to line up a couple babysitters, find some missing ski pants, scour the house and garage for my ski boots, do a run to Orem to pick up Ben's new boots, and unfortunately, be pushed back some time because I got a speeding ticket (my first in 15 years) for going 8 over on my way to pick up the babysitter.  We also never found my ski boots, so we had to spend a while at the rental place once we got there.

But, all of the stars finally aligned, and we were off.

I knew that Mary and Sam have been improving, but I truly couldn't believe how fast they are!  Ben has coached them really well.  They knew about form, turns, and control.  On our first run, I had to put some serious effort in to keep up with them.

They just zip all over the hill looking for any jump they can find.

Ben is, of course, extremely good, and made it look so smooth and effortless.

We had a lot of fun together, and I was really glad I could be a part of it all with them.

Thankfully, just as my feet were screaming for mercy (my rental boots were too small), the kids pooped out as well.  We called it a day, and one well spent.

Someday soon, our whole family will be able to be out on the slopes enjoying the fun.  I am excited for that!

It was a great, sunny, fun day in Park City.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

cool encounters

On Friday, we got a babysitter for the two youngest, and we took Mary and Sam to Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) to watch the Visa US Grand Prix men's half pipe competition.

It is cool to see these guys on the computer or on TV flipping around the half pipe, but it is another to see it in person, right over your head, literally.

We were able to get as close as we wanted to, and it is just so crazy to see what these kids can do...yes, they are just kids.  Some of them teenagers, and others in their early 20's.  Not to mention that they are doing these flips with nothing but solid ice under them.

This was one of a few Olympic qualifying events, so there were world class athletes in the competition.  Ben could name them all off.

It was FREEZING, and Mary, Sam and I had to call it quits half way through.  We spend the last half watching from the warmth of our car at the bottom of the hill.  We got some yummy hot chocolate on the way home, and attempted to thaw out a little.  It was worth the cold though.  To see the talent of these athletes and the tricks they were doing, was amazing! It was a fun night.

It is pretty cool to live in an area where we can just drive 20 minutes and see things like this!  Especially with the winter Olympics coming up, there have been a lot of qualifying competitions here for various sports.  It is inspiring.

In another note...
Last week, at this same ski resort, while he was skiing, Ben recognized a familiar face.  (somehow with all of his ski gear on, including his goggles).  On closer inspection, Ben realized that it was Elder Nelson.  An apostle in our church.

 They were able to talk for just a few minutes, shake hands, and then be on their way. 
Pretty cool huh! 
I am still getting over the fact that Elder Nelson...age 89, was out there skiing!

He, along with about 9 other apostles, and our prophet, have homes here in Heber, so it isn't too uncommon to see them around, but it's usually in the summer, and usually when they are visiting your ward, or at the grocery store, or out doing yard work at their house. Just last month, as our ward was finishing up sacrament meeting, in walked Elder Uchtdorf.  He was visiting the ward after us, but it was neat to see him in the building, and to hear him speaking.

To see an apostle on the ski slopes...well, lets just say that is a perfect encounter for Ben.

flippin' awesome!

Mary had her first TNT (tumbling and trampoline) meet yesterday.

It was hosted by her own gym, Heber Handspringers, and was held in the events center here in town.  There were over 650 athletes competing from all places, ages and levels.  It was a HUGE meet.
lining up for the first event

Mary was so nervous all morning.  I was nervous for her.  We are so used to gymnastics meets, and we didn't really know what to expect.  This is similar, but also very different.  The fear of the unknown was quite unnerving.

Instead of bars, beam, floor and vault, there is double mini trampoline, the long skinny bouncy floor, and the regular trampoline.

The meet lasted all day, and Mary was able to come home for a little while between each event.

She did awesome!

Because of her Birthday being right before the new year starts, she was put with the 10 year old girls, even though she will not be 10 for almost another year.  That was a little nuts.

There were approx. 15 girls in her age group on each event.

Mary rocked it!

She came away with first place on double mini...

3rd place on floor...

and 7 place on trampoline.

She was so happy and tried her hardest.  That is all we hope for at every meet and competition, regardless of the outcome.

 I am so proud of her for handling her transition from gymnastics to tumbling so well.  It was a hard (but necessary) break from gymnastics, and I wondered if her heart would ever find something she was so passionate about again.  I am thrilled to see her joy in tumbling. 

She is a resilient and strong girl.  Her sweet humility and joy in the success of others as well as herself, makes her a great athlete, and a true competitor in our eyes.

From birth, we knew Mary was born to fly, and fly she does. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

the shorts

William is awesome.  He does silly things, like eat the tops off of all of the muffins, every Sunday morning.

And stacking paper cups for fun.

And wrestling as often as possible, and snuggling, and going to bed the earliest (and asking to do so), playing the Kindle Fire, and eating donuts at Walmart, and riding his bike, and reading Little People Books, and making ghosts out of play dough, and listening to his favorite spooky Halloween CD over and over and over again in the car, and eating ketchup in large quantities, and talking in the dark, and playing batcave, and laughing his deep contagious belly laugh, and just being a buddy.

William is a very fun, energetic and silly 3 year old, who is experiencing life and learning as he goes. 

He has made a name for himself in our neighborhood, and it started within weeks of us living here.

William was known for walking across the rocky, weedy, lots, and down the sidewalk with little pebbles on it, with no shoes or socks, and without even wincing or acting at all like it hurt.  William did not wear shoes the entire summer last year.  Not to the store, not to church, not on vacation, not anywhere! 

Part of the problem was that his feet are square.  They are pretty much cubes and we could not find a shoe to fit his foot. 

He now wears shoes to church, and usually on outings as well.  Snow boots seem to be the game changer, thank heavens!

Our neighbors and friends quickly became amused with Williams "style" and he has become a legend for it.  Numerous people will tell me that William is their favorite of the tons and tons of rug-rats roaming our neighborhood.  He makes them smile and chuckle with his cute, amusing, and silly ways.

William is also known for his shorts.  His black or grey (he calls them "whipe", white) cotton shorts with the stripe down the side.  I bought them 2 years ago at Walmart for $3.50 each.

These shorts are a legend not only in the neighborhood, but also in our home, at Ben's work, in Idaho, and everywhere we go more than once.  William wears nothing else, as far as pants go.  I am not exaggerating one bit.  William literally has worn nothing but these shorts for about 8 months now.

I have tried everything.  When it was -18 outside, I took him to the store and told him to pick out any pair of pants he wanted.  He did.  And he has never worn them.  I tried sweats, I tried pajama pants, I tried every type of fabric, color and style imaginable.  Every time William cheers and gets excited about the new pants, and then he just tells me to give them to Sam and never wears them.

These shorts have been stained, torn, sewn back up, washed about a million times, and are worn night and day.  Yes, he sleeps in them too.

On the rare occasion that I have to wash them both at the same time, William transforms into an insecure, grumpy, flustered, upset creature, who will do nothing but ask every 5 minutes if his shorts are clean yet.  It truly traumatizes him, and in turn, the rest of us.

The one exception is church, thank goodness!  Somehow, we convinced William to wear pants for 3 hours once a week.  I think God has a good sense of humor.  It is only by a complete miracle that William wears pants to church.  I honestly don't know how it came about.  He puts them on right before church, and he literally has his church pants off in the door way when we get home, and is on the hunt for his shorts.

William never took a pacifier, or had a favorite stuffed animal or blanket. 

I think the shorts took the place of all of this.  This past weekend, after my mom sewed up another hole in his white shorts, she gave them back to William, and he lovingly looked them over and held them to his chest for a moment before putting them on.  I about bit my tongue off trying not to laugh hysterically.

As a mother, I know William, and I know what the shorts mean to him, so I don't mind.

It is another story though, when it is the dead of winter, it in in the negatives, and I am walking my 3 year old to the store, or taking him to preschool, or running errands, in shorts...and Lightening McQueen snow boots of course.  :)

The looks and glares I get are unbelievable.  I have long ago given up caring what people think about my mothering skills, and my parenting, because I know my kids...they don't.  It is annoying though.  I mean come on!  In reality, because of his boots, only his cute chubby knees are bare.  Go find something else to glare at, or put your pointy finger, judgments, and negative energy toward fixing world huger.

Williams preschool teacher thinks it is hilarious, and doesn't judge me for bringing my kid to class in shorts in the middle of a blizzard, when all the other are bundled from the toes to the forehead.  William is just as happy and warm as the rest of them.  I am so thankful for her good attitude and ability to laugh and let William be.

Did I mention we are also going on day 4 of the ugly..I mean "super cool" robot shirt he threw in the shopping cart last week., and is in love with! He does bathe, he just puts the same clothes on afterwards.  Whatever.  :)

This is what William wore to the kids club at the gym today, much to everyone's chagrin.

He blasted in there yelling "ho, ho, ho."  I just smiled, waved and made my way to my FHITT class.  They love him there too.

He is also a legend with Ben's co-workers for numerous reasons.  The company took all of us to see Frozen before Christmas, and it was a COLD day.  We brought William in his shorts, of course.  I don't even notice much anymore. William is a walking heater, and honestly, never complains of being cold.  The knowing looks, chuckles and acceptance were great.  They embrace Williams ways, and love it. Oh William!

And so the shorts saga lives on.  I am hoping with everything in my heart, that soon, Walmart will bring the same shorts back out in the shelves.

You see, William's beloved shorts are starting to literally become threads, and, well...

William does not wear underwear.

say what?

As you fellow blog readers may know, my little Lukey had 9 ear infections his first 9 months of life.  And those were the ones we for sure knew about.  It breaks my heart to even type this. 
Oh, sweet Luke.

When he didn't have an infection, his ear drums were always floating around in some nasty fluid and made the doctor concerned at every check up.

Luke finally got tubes in his ears last February, 3 months shy of his first Birthday, after a horrible bout of ear infections, RSV and pneumonia.  The tubes were miracle workers!  We went from an ear infection every month to one infection in the last year!

So awesome!  We love tubes!

However, I have noticed something the past few months, that has had my mother radar on full alert. 

Luke does not talk.

He does not say one word, and he is 20 months old.  Not even momma or dada

I have tried to listen to well meaning friends tell me that he is just the youngest, and doesn't need to talk, because everyone does things for him when he points.  I tried to believe that he was one of those kids that just wasn't interested in talking until he was older. 

But my mommy instinct has been telling me that something is wrong, and I haven't been able to shake it.

I have worked with him, and tried to teach him words.  He completely understand me when I say things, and points to the right objects when I say them.  He just doesn't say them himself.

I took Luke to the doctor last week, because he has been sick the last little while, and I was worried about ear infections.

By some miracle, Luke still has his tubes in!  They were only supposed to last 6 months, are we are coming up on a year!  These things are amazing.

However, Luke's ear drums are once again swimming in some nasty fluid, and the tubes are not draining it.

I haven't taken Luke in for an ear check up for almost a year, so this fluid could easily have been around for months and months and months.

The doctor then asked me if Luke is talking.

It was like the dam of concerns I have been harboring over Luke's lack of talking finally burst.  I told the doctor my concerns and fears, and let it all out.  It felt so good to finally voice my feelings about this.

She was awesome, and completely agreed with me.  She said that Luke has most likely been walking around with fluid filled ears, that make everything sound muffled, like he is under the water.

It COULD BE and MOST LIKELY is the reason he is not talking.  It is not a guarantee though.

Luke has a speech therapist coming over on Thursday to test him, and get us going on the right path. 

He also has an appointment with his ENT doctor to see what we can do about this fluid. 

It may just be some simple drainages every now and then for a while, but there has also been talk about a pretty major surgery as well, where they will re-route his ear insides.

OR, it could be nothing with his ears, and they are fine.

I guess we just sit tight for a couple more weeks, and see where we go from here.  I am just so relieved that we are on the way to helping Luke.

Oh sweet Luke!  Let's get you fixed up, and let the jabbering begin.  I know you have so much to say.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

resolutions...a few of them anyway

It may be cheesy, but I love making New Year's Resolutions.  It love the feeling of a fresh start, the hope of something new, the faith to continue on, and dreaming big.

A few of my resolutions are private, but here are some others that I am hoping to accomplish.

Here we go 2014!

-Cook slightly healthier for my family. 
         Nothing drastic or crazy, just add a few more vegies here, and few more fruits there, and a little less sugar.  Moderation and balance is all I care about.  Just trying to keep it real...and healthy-er.

-learn to sew better. 
       I know how to sew at a very basic level.  But I am still intimidated every time I pull out my sewing machine, which is seldom at best.  I want to sew Christmas stockings for my family, and curtains for several rooms in our house.  Maybe more accent pillows...I think I may have a slight obsession with accent pillows.  With the rate by boys go through pants, I might as well refresh my limited experience to patch, hem, and sew up holes while I'm at it.

-break open my books again, and start studying for the NASM exam.
      I have always wanted to be a personal trainer, and I know I can do it.  I already know the sports medicine part of it.  I spent 4 years of college and 90 hours of clinicals studying it.  I just need to set aside the time to study and take the test.  I plan to at least study more seriously this year, and MAYBE take the test.

-focus on my role as a mother for my specific family, and be happy with that.
    The world seems to think it knows what's best for raising my kids, but I'm pretty sure the world has no idea who my kids are, what their personalities are, and what techniques work for them.  Therefore, the world and it's advice, is just that...advice. No more guilt trips for not being super mom, being the right mom for my own children, is good enough.

-Keep going physically
   After these last 2 miscarriages, and the discovery of my "baby making system" beginning to shut down, I have had a hard time feeling healthy and fit.  I also know that we have another baby that needs to come to us, and the thought of another pregnancy doesn't exactly scream...get fit now!
It can be tempting for me to just put it all on hold for a while, so I don't have to go through the pain of getting super fit, only to miscarry, be sick with pregnancy, or have hormone issues all over again, and lose everything I had worked up to.
BUT, I am fit and healthy now, and I have worked hard to get here after my miscarriages.  I have started running again, and am up to 4 miles, followed by a fit class, or 30 minutes on the elliptical. 
I am just going to keep plugging along, come what may. 

Let things that don't directly effect or harm me and my family go, and let ignorant comments bounce off.
      From my experiences this past year, I am discovering that a lot of people are becoming intolerant, self-centered, and very opinionated about what everyone else is doing, and whether they think it meets their own "life rules" or not.  Me and my family have been a direct target of this this past year, from people who were very dear to us.  We have been treated so cruel and cold, over petty little things, it is unbelievable. We have also  put up with snippy comments (over the years) that are just so ignorant and insensitive, it is almost laughable.  I can't believe what people are capable of saying, or doing when they have no experience whatsoever of being in your shoes, or parenting several children, but think they can tell you how to do it all.  It is rude.

 Anyway, I don't want to become this way, so I am making a resolution to just live and let live.  If someone does something I don't like, or parents their child in a way that seems odd, or just does things differently that I do, I am just going to shrug and let it go.  I sure wish others would do the same for me.  If it doesn't directly harm me, who cares.  To each their own.  Things have a way of coming full circle anyway.

And that's all folks.  Cheers!

the trip - part 2, and New Years

After we left Boise, we drove to Pocatello to spend a few days with my family.

My parents and my sister were the only one's there, but we still had a great time together, and the calmness was nice.

We literally just chilled the first day.  The kids watched movies, I stayed in my PJ's until way past noon, we read books, played games, did puzzles, played the piano, and talked and just hung out.  It was very needed and so nice.  My mom made pancakes with this amazing caramel syrup.  It was pretty amazing.

The next day we took the kids to the mall to get their wiggles out, and me, my mom, and my sister went to Verizon to switch our phones around.

Kelsey was getting a new phone, my mom was getting her old phone, and I was getting my moms.  Mary came along, and ended up getting my phone (but it is not hooked up, she just likes to play the games on it and carry it around).  My mom even let Mary pick out a case for "her phone."  The phone has not left Mary's sight sense. 

Kelsey's boyfriend came that evening, and the kids had fun jumping all over him and breaking him in to life with kids.  We also played A LOT of Super Mario on the Wii.

It was New Years Eve, so we ordered pizza, and pulled out Guitar Hero on the Wii.  We blasted the music and jammed out until it was time for the traditional tree burning.

This has always been my favorite New Year's Eve tradition, and this year was by far the best!  My dad doused the tree with gasoline, and as the clock struck 12, we shot roman candles and bottle rockets at it. 

The fireworks were awesome, but the tree didn't light, so my dad did the coolest thing ever!  He poured a trail of gasoline from the tree over to where we were, and then he lit the match.  I almost burst from the inside out with excitement as the "trail of fire" flew across the lawn, over to the tree, and then the tree exploded into one of the most brilliant balls of fire I have ever seen.  The ashes danced in the night sky above it.  It was seriously so amazing!  And yes, I may be a slight pyro.  If you didn't already know that, you don't know me.

Sam was thrilled that he stayed awake until "tomorrow", but immediately fell asleep once we went back inside.  Mary was still going strong, and we didn't go to bed until the wee hours of the morning.  It was a great New Years!  I don't think I have celebrated a New Years with Ben in the 10 years that we have been married.  He just isn't a night owl.  And William and Luke were snug in bed as well.

The next day we hung out and talked for a while, and then headed home.

For me, the trip was great.  It was nice to be with my sister and my parents and to talk with them and feel the warmth of family and unity.  It was relaxing for all of us, and my kids and Ben also had a good time.

All in all, we had a great trip visiting our families, and I know, for my children, it is the stuff memories are made of.

the trip - part 1

Mary got a camera for Christmas, and she was WAY better than I was at taking pictures during our trip, so the pictures on this post are all Mary's.  She is pretty good!

Each year, we try to visit both of our families around Christmas time.  To me, it is a huge highlight of the holidays.  As the children get older, it is becoming something to look forward to for them as well.

The day after Christmas, we drove to Boise.  Ben and the kids went skiing in the morning, while I packed and tried to organize our house that looked like a Christmas bomb had gone of the day before.

When they got home, we packed the car, and took off.

We all had a great time in Boise.  The kids LOVE playing with their cousins there, and they just play and run and play and run.  It is so nice, because all of Ben's siblings have several children, so no one is judging or complaining about anyone's kids.  We all know that we will just have to work around them, and we do.  The kids are as much a priority as the adults when it comes to having fun and doing activities and games.  We all understand, and we can all appreciate the fun they are having.  To me, I truly appreciate this, and my children bask in it and remember it long after the trip is done.

We are missing 5 other cousins in the pictures, but these are the ones we have.


Adam and Luke both LOVE to vacuum and mop, so they were a good pair.

cute Libby that looks like a porcelain doll.

The kids played, and the adults talked, hung out, the guys went shooting and sharpened their new knives.  We watched football games, went to Wes' house that he and his wife have completely remodeled, and just had a good time.

Aside from all of that, Mary, Sam and I went to visit Trudy and her kids.  They were our best friends and next door neighbors in Herriman, and we have missed them dearly.  It was so fun to visit with them!  Oh how I miss summer days on the lawn talking with Trudy and watching the kids play.  Maybe this summer, we will have a lawn, and once more, enjoy those same kinds of moments.

Taylor and Delilah

Sam and Landon (did not want picture taken)

Mary and Taylor

We also visited our friends from college, the Darringtons.  They were so kind to let our family of 6 barge in on them.  William body slammed their kid, their baby bit ours, toys were flying everywhere, and somehow we all just dealt with it, and tried to reconnect and bond through it all.  Good thing we all know how to laugh.  They were so kind, and we cherish our never ending friendship with them, that was born in good old Draper Oaks in Rexubrg, Idaho.

We also went to Build A Bear for Mary.  It was one of her Christmas gifts.  JoJo came with us, and pitched in so that Mary could get an outfit or 2 for her adorable raccoon she picked out.  As a stuffed animal lover myself, that store is an absolute wonderland.  I am so glad my daughter can have so much fun there.

Ben and I also celebrated our 10th Anniversary while we were in Boise.  Can you believe it, 10 years!  We had plans to go to Hawaii, but we are going to postpone it another year, due to miscarriages and plans to try to get our last baby here hopefully sometime in the near future.  The trip will happen though, and we are excited.

Instead of Hawaii, we went to the Melting Pot which is freakin' amazing!  It is a 2 hour experience of fondue goodness.  It was awesome, and a great way to celebrate our 10 years together.  It was fun to talk about all we have been through, and our plans for the next 10 years.  I am such a lucky woman.  Ben is my everything.

We had a great and fun filled time in Boise.  It was a good visit.

christmas, CHRISTmas, CHRISTMAS!!!

 Christmas at our house this year was the whole package.  Magical, spiritual, exciting, special, loving, and full of joy.

Mary and Sam woke up first, and came blasting excitedly through our bedroom door.  Unfortunately, William and Luke were still sleeping.

I let Mary and Sam play games on the kindle for a while, so I could try to get some more zzzz's, but I was too excited as well. We talked about Christmas and Jesus, and just hung out until William and Luke FINALLY woke up.

I tried to keep all of our kids in our room, so we could all go out together, but once I got everyone all set, we noticed that William was gone.

I opened the door, and there he was.  Sitting in the middle of all of the presents, twinkling lights, soft Christmas music, and Christmas wonder, just silently soaking it all in.  He was feeling the magic of Christmas, and I wasn't about to disturb him.  I let William have his moment, and then the rest of us went out to join him.

Stockings were first.  This is always my favorite part, and was obviously a favorite for the kids too.  They didn't even want to open presents after they went through their stockings.  They were happy and enjoying the moment.  I was shocked that they weren't rushing through it all, but we just let them enjoy at their own pace.  It was peaceful and nice.

After a while, we moved on to presents.  One at a time.  There were squeals, hugs, smiles, and piles of paper everywhere.  It was so fun!

The rest of the day was spent enjoying, relaxing, setting things up, playing with the kids, playing together as a family, going on walks, napping, and eating a yummy dinner.  We also took time to read through our "gift to Jesus." 

For the month of December, each night, we all wrote down something we had done to help someone be happy that day, or to help someone in need.  We had a box full of "gifts to Jesus" by Christmas day, and it was neat to read through them all.

It was a wonderful day.  It was nice to just be, as a family.  To play together, feel the joy together, love together, and to feel the spirit so strongly in our home.

Christmas is a glorious holiday, and I pray that my children will never forget the magic and the love.

christmas eve

Christmas Eve this year was awesome.  I absolutely love having my children at the ages they are.  It is makes it so much more magical, fun, exciting, and special.  I wish I could freeze them the way they are.

On Christmas Eve morning, we did our traditional Cinnamon Roll French Toast breakfast at Kneaders.  It did not disappoint!  It is ridiculously good. 

Then, it was off to the gym.  Yup, we went to the gym on Christmas Eve.  Gotta get the energy out somehow, and believe me, after that breakfast, a good run was in order. 

We hung out most of the day.  I baked goodies and Ben did some Christmas shopping.

That evening, we had a party at our house with some families in our neighborhood.  This is the first year I have hosted a Christmas Eve Party, and I am so glad we did.  It was so much fun, and it was nice to be surrounded by good friends.

We talked, played some silly games, the children acted out the nativity as Ben read from the Bible, and we ate yummy food.  It was wonderful.
Santa's beard game:  2 teams line up (their faces have been covered in Vaseline from the nose on down) Each person runs to the other end of the room and sticks their face in a bowl of cotton balls.  The team with the best "beards" wins.  It was HILARIOUS!

I was helping the kids get ready in the other room, so this is the best shot of the nativity I could get.  They are looking at "baby Jesus."

The last family left around 9:00, and we did a quick clean up of the house, and then settled down for some traditions and family time.

It was time to set out Santa's snacks, open our new PJ's, and attempt to get the kids to sleep.  Of course, we took the traditional Christmas Eve pictures in the PJ's.  William was about 3 hours past his bedtime, so we had to take the picture like this, instead of in order, in front of the fireplace.  Oh well, sometimes pictures like this have more personality anyway.
Luke was so was hilarious.  Sorry the picture is blurry.

I love these kids so much.

The kids built a fort up in the bonus room area, so we let them sleep in it.  I read them the story of Christ's birth once again, and we talked more in detail about it.  Sam said the prayer, and wished Jesus a happy Birthday, it was a heart melter.  He absolutely meant it.  It was cute to hear their excited giggles and conversations coming from under the blankets. 

Ben and I had already wrapped everything, so all we had to do was set up 2 bikes.

I set up the Little Tyke bike for Luke, and it ended up being extremely difficult and frustrating.  We lost our hammer, so I had to put it all together using a big boulder as a hammer.  I would not suggest that to anyone, ever, for any reason.  I was all sorts of kicking, groaning, roaring, banging, and throwing.  It took forever, but, I got it done, and all was well. 

We set everything all up, and then got all snug in our bed.

I admit, I couldn't sleep.  I was so excited for the kids, and for the look on their faces, and for the magic, joy and love and Christmas Day.  I was up a lot, just peeking out at everything and grinning.

It was a great Christmas Eve.

Always a kid at heart.

my mary girl

Mary turned 9 a week and a half ago.  I truly cannot believe she is 9!  She is acting more young woman than little girl already. 

I am trying to squeeze every last ounce of little girl out of her that I can.  She may be my only daughter, and I can't believe that we are already out of the doll, princess, dress up, phase, and moving into the crafts, invention, "can I have a more grown up room?", purses, "when can I wear make up", asking for a phone phase.

She is growing into a gorgeous girl, and her sweet personality is blossoming as well.  She is such a great helper with her little brothers, and is becoming a really good friend to me.  She is not a dramatic girl, she is very level headed and relaxed for a girl her age, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

Mary had a wonderful Birthday.  She had a party at the trampoline place, called Jump On It.  She invited 4 friends, and our whole family went as well.  We let Sam invite a friend, in order to spare him being surrounded by a bunch of girls.  Someday, he will realize that it might not be so bad. ;)

 I must say, driving 45 minutes with a car full of 9/10 year old girls was an adventure.  I don't think they ever finished one conversation, and there were at least 2 conversations going on at the same time the entire way there.  They talked so fast I honestly couldn't believe they could understand each other. The noise level was through the roof, and there were lots of squeals and screams to go with it.  It was nuts, but funny too. I just blasted Taylor Swift (their request) and tried to enjoy the ride.  I was just glad that the conversations were about music, silly jokes, and school.  Not boys, phones, drama and Justin Bieber-ish type nonsense.  I can wait for that.

On Mary's actual Birthday, she got a gift card to her favorite store in Park City, and we had a mom/daughter shopping date.  We had a great time.

She wanted Steak, potatoes and marshmallow salad for her dinner.  She cracks me up!  And instead of a cake, it was ice cream Sunday's.  She knows what she wants.

She also got a fish tank, and just got her two fish to go in it tonight.  She LOVES Percy Jackson books and movies, so she named her fish Percy and Grover, after the main characters.

All in all, she had a wonderful 9th Birthday. 

Birthdays are a big deal to me, because I love the chance to have a day to make my child feel extra loved and special.  With 4 kids, it can be hard to do this individually often, so I love how Birthday's are all about the child.

This was a hard one for me though, because aside from her being another year older, I can see the changes in Mary already.  I love the girl she is turning in to, but it is hard for me to see her grow up.  I just want my little girl with me forever.  However, I am excited to see how she grows and matures.  She is a beautiful girl, inside and out.

Love you Mary Girl!