Monday, December 29, 2008

We're Back...For Now...

Whew. We made it to California before Santa, but we cut it close. Due to my perpetual disorganization, we left on the 23rd at 3:00 pm. Yes. It's true. David drove like the wind, and we got home about 12:30 Pacific time, but we were all very very tired. Especially me. Because I stayed up all night. Again. Can someone teach me how to get everything done on time and still go to bed at a normal hour? Please? I'm begging you.

Was it worth it? YES. If just for the time connecting with family, I'd do it all over again (yeah, that means you, all you crazy Youngberg brothers and sisters, as well as my wonderful Paullin family.)

I'll post pictures when I get my head on straight.

And now I start packing for a few days in Aspen Grove. Winter Wonderland, I'm ready for you.

Well, actually, I'm not at all ready...But I will be when I get there. For now, there's the laundry, the finding a home for Christmas presents, the finishing up (ok, really, starting) delivering Christmas neighbor gifts. Oh, and Christmas cards...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa Calls

We had an exciting visit tonight from the man in red himself. He was as charming as ever, and certainly made all of us feel even more in the Christmas spirit. All of us except Ben, that is. When the Santa Invasion occured, his little face filled with terror, he ran to Katy (our wonderful neighbor), and clung to her before she handed him to David.

The Christmas requests? They were eventful, as none of the children stuck to what they had decided they wanted earlier.

Josh wants a cell phone. But since his parents (meanies) won't allow it, he wants a camera with a detachable lens. Nice one, kiddo.

Sophie wants a lime green sewing machine. Lime green, you ask? Oh yes. Lime green. Do they make lime green sewing machines? No, they don't, well, certainly not in normal sewing machine factories. But Sophie has assured me that Santa's elves can make anything she wants. ("Or do you not really believe, Mom? Are you saying Santa's not real, Mom?") Stinker.

Kate wants five rings. Luckily, she doesn't care if they're Five Golden Rings. She just wants rings to fit into the remaining ring slots in her jewelry box.

Ben? He just wants Santa to go away, already.

It's always fun that Cole and Emily happen to be visiting when Santa visits. What a great coincidence!

Santa assured us he would find us in California. I hope we make it there before he does...

Merry Christmas, everyone. We are grateful for you and all that you mean to us.

Friday, December 19, 2008

When I Said I'm Getting Old, I Meant It

After my post about my little sister Bri, I found this picture.

So when I say Briana getting married and being pregnant has made me feel a little aged, well...

You see what I mean?

And admit it, those sleeves rock.

I'm in So Much Trouble

Well, actually, I think I may have managed to smooth things over. But last night was not a pleasant night around the GreenHouse.

Since I'm not bringing in any income anymore, I've been trying to be careful about my expenditures. I keep trying to figure out ways to keep some of our hard-earned income in our bank account a little longer.

So would could be more natural than to try to avoid spending money on kids' haircuts, right?

Yeah. You see where this is going.

It's not like I was going to try to cut the boys' hair. No. I'm smarter than that.

BUT, honestly, all the girls needed was a trim. And how hard can it be to cut in a straight line? I have a masters degree, for goodness sake. I'm fairly intelligent, I have a good eye, and I can DRAW a straight line (most of the time.)

But this was Sophie's hair last week:

And Sophie's hair this morning:

Note: I put it in foam curlers last night after cutting it because I couldn't bear to let David see JUST how short it was. He has a thing for his girls and their beautiful hair. He does not think trying to save money on haircuts is a good idea. And now...

I don't either.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Me and My Little Sis

Briana came to visit at the beginning of the month. She wanted to meet Baby Evy and to have a little away time from LA while her hubby studied hard, and we're all so glad she came. I had to take a picture of the first time she outweighed me (she's 8 months pregnant). Ha ha, Bri. I have to enjoy it while it lasts.

We had a good time at Temple Square. I've never seen the Christmas decorations during the day, and it was lovely. It was especially nice to just be able to walk up to the Christus without any lines. Kate was fascinated by the statue.

We also made some very lovely but very disgusting cupcakes. Yikes. They were awful.

Bri was only 1 when I left for college. Accepting that she is a married, pregnant grown-up has been a little mind-bending, because it means that I have to accept that I am no longer 20. It's true, I'm not. I know that's a shocker. However, she is a lovely, kind, funny adult, so I guess it's kind of a win-win. Oh, except the feeling old part.

Thanks for coming to visit, sister. I look forward to many more visits, with baby in tow. We might even make some edible treats.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas is Coming

We love Christmas around here, at least in theory. In practice, making Christmas special is tricky, and leads to lots of late nights and therefore, grumpy kids. And Mom. And sometimes Dad. I'm sure that in the long run, the traditions are all worth it, though, and really make December life feel exciting.

Some of our favorite traditions:

Picking out our Christmas tree, then having hot chocolate in mugs bigger than our heads.
Decorating the family room downstairs, too.
Doing the 12 days of Christmas for a couple of families every year. (Oh no. We forgot last night. Oh no.)
Reading in front of the Christmas tree.
Reading Advent scriptures.
Sleepover in front of the Christmas tree.
Christmas lights on Temple Square.
The creche exhibit in Midway (which we missed this year due to illness. Sad.)
Decorating gingerbread (Ahem. Graham cracker.) houses. We had a BLAST with Eric and Christina making them just last night (thus forgetting to do the fourth day of Christmas. I could just slap myself. Argh.) Thanks, guys!
Watching Christmas Story.
Acting out the nativity on Christmas Eve.
An impromptu Christmas Eve concert, complete with drumming to Little Drummer Boy.
Clam chowder and a Yule log for Christmas Eve dinner.
Taking treats to people we love.
Lots of fun.
Lots of treats.
Lots of secrets. The good kind.

I love this season. I love the idea of the Christ child in all his purity coming to earth in the most humble circumstances possible. I love teaching my children about Goodwill to Mankind. It's all good.

Except the not sleeping enough.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Let It Snow

We spent a gloriously quiet afternoon at home. The big kids played in the snow, then came in for hot chocolate, warm baths, and dinner. Our evening hours were spent TV-free, thank you very much, in front of the roaring fire and Christmas tree, reading and playing games. Josh and Sophie played Battleship and Scrabble, Ben toddled from book pile to Daddy's lap, back and forth, over and over, and later the girls came to the piano with me and sang Christmas primary songs.

Things don't come together like this very often, but when they do, they're beautiful. Hooray for a peaceful, happy, Christmas-y day.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kid Stuff

Things I love about my 12 year old:

He's truly funny, in a sarcastic, "I know how to push your buttons" kind of way.
He is passionate about soccer and skiing.
He loves babies.
He has fallen in love with his cello again.
He often helps me the first time I ask. (I said "often." Not "always.")
His grin is so huge, it nearly splits his face in two.
Watching funny movies with him makes them double funny because his laugh is so contagious.
He thinks he is Mr. Decorator and has Major Opinions about how we have decorated for Christmas.
He wore shorts to school every day this fall until 3 days ago, when he finally decided winter had officially arrived. I don't know, maybe it was because it was 25 degrees out?

Things I love about my 9 year old:

She now goes to violin lessons without complaining.
She is amazing with Ben, and often she just carts him around with his arms around her neck.
She starts projects for school BEFORE they're due, even if I'm dragging my feet.
She has a real eye for beauty and is constantly coming up with new ideas for art projects.
She is kind to her friends.
She decided to learn the last piece in her violin book and did it in one day. Performed it the next day. Didn't care that there were rhythm issues and wouldn't let me fix them.
She constantly does these flippy things off our stairs. It makes me crazy, but it's also very cute. Freaks her Grandma out, though. She's sure she'll break her neck.
She has a very specific taste in clothes.
She is passionate.

Things I love about my 5 year old:

She is passionate about playing the piano. I didn't know there were piano students like her.
She reads with darling inflection, especially when there are exclamation points. Oh my! Wow! Oh no!
She plays with Ben in such a darling way. Except when she's bugging him and making him scream.
She wore sandals to school almost every day this year until last week. And skirts and short sleeve shirts. And hardly ever a coat. Argh.
She loves to do hard puzzles.
She eats so many more foods than the rest of the kids.
She has a sunshine spirit.

Things I love about my 20-month-old:

He hugs us and pats our backs.
He loves chocolate milk. He opens the fridge, gets out the milk, goes to the pantry, gets out the chocolate milk mix, and says, "Muk. Chokuh muk."
He answers "Yesh" with a head nod when we ask him if he wants something.
His first sentence was "I want cookies." Good boy.
He loves to be outside.
I can lay him down and he will go to sleep. It's a miracle (a miracle that was many crying nights in the making.)
He loves books, and animals, and singing, and waffles, and did I mention chocolate milk?
He feeds the dog. Too often. Yesterday it was half a loaf of whole wheat bread. It's usually half his breakfast.
He copies all of us. David was standing by the couch a couple of days ago talking to me and leaned back against it, and Ben came running over and leaned back against it too, with just the right amount of nonchalance.

I swear they change everyday. It is lovely and heartbreaking, and I wish I could stop time and soak it all in.

Monday, December 8, 2008

What I Should be Doing...

Christmas shopping.

Folding laundry.

Studying scriptures.

Doing dishes.

Practicing with Kate.

Organizing my desk (it's ALMOST done. I swear.).

What I AM doing...

Nothing much.

Except wishing I hadn't ripped one of my last pair of contacts taking it out of my eye Friday night. And enjoying watching the snow fall. And trying to get over the cold that has knocked all of us for a loop in the last week.

OK. Break's over. Time to practice with Kate. (The rest of all you "shoulds" can just wait your turn.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

I'm finally posting our Thanksgiving pictures.

The truth: My basement did NOT get fully organized before Thanksgiving. I did not recover any chairs, make any new curtains, or even take a shower before the first guests arrived. (I DID eventually take a shower, but after the first group showed up. It was embarrassing to be caught in my pink striped pajamas, especially when I realized that my shirt was inside out. Oh well...take me as I am, I guess.)

The other truth: It didn't matter. Perfection is not a prerequisite for gratitude. I was surrounded by my little family and some of my wonderful extended family, we ate delicious (I mean De-Li-Cious) food, we laughed, we relaxed, we loved.

So Happy Thanksgiving, a week late. I'm still eating like it's Thanksgiving, and I'm plumping up daily. Time to renew my commitment to exercise and eating right. Well, not right, but right-er.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 30

I'm grateful for my gratitude posts.

My heart has been softened, my eyes opened to the goodness around me, my responses to hard situations kinder than they might have been. Cultivating a spirit of gratitude is not easy. There are so many struggles in all of our lives that it can be easy to wallow in the muck of it all. I certainly have found myself in many a muck-fest. Having this challenge helped pull me out of a few, and for that I am truly thankful.

I may have to continue to count my blessings on the sidebar of my blog.

And now it's December! Christmas!

It will be the first December in 11 years that I have not had lessons, dress rehearsals, concerts, recording sessions, etc. etc. etc. I hope that I will be able to create a season of peace for myself and for my family that hasn't happened in the past.