Monday, December 23, 2013

more JOY

 Life continues to be Merry around these parts. Jeff is loving his new cast iron skillet I got him for his birthday. He made the kids snowman pancakes the other morning for breakfast. 
 Points for him. The kids are always asking him to make pancake shapes and he's never been able to do it because as he would say, "this &*(&)(&()*(@#$ pan is just a joke). No more sticking to the pan :0
 It was white on Friday which meant that Christmas break started one day early. Sweet! This is what I saw out my bedroom window. So fun!
The kids were out playing before breakfast with their dad. He's so good!
 Auntie Tina gifted the kids early Christmas. Emmett was more then excited with his lego cars. Seriously, what 3 year old can build their own lego cars? He did the green one all on his own after Jeff and Brax helped him with the red one. He was so proud he said, "mom, take a picture to send to Aunt Tina." So cute.
 Braxton has found himself a seat at the adult table playing games. My dad taught him how to play golf the other night and since then he is unstoppable. He and Jeff have the same stratagem. So far they haven't taken the win but they have a system.
 Auntie Jess and Uncle Brent are here now. We have had lots of fun with them already and more to come. 
 Here is the snowman Brax and my dad built at the bay. The kids hung out there with my parents on Friday while Jeff and I went down to Seattle to pick up Brent and Jess from the airport at midnight. It was a fair trade. Jeff and I finished up some last minute shopping and had a yummy dinner date at PF Changs before heading to the airport. 
The kids had a blast at my parents; playing in the snow, hot cocoa, nuts and bolts, movies, card games...
 Here are my cute sister-in-laws working on their knitting projects. 
 Today the kids and I were busy getting more craft and baking on. Here we are working on felt projects. 
 I am trying to cut out the Nativity for tomorrow nights scripture reading. I thought it would be cool to make it a felt story. We were a little distracted today though so I still have more to go. 
 Braxton and one of the wise men he created. 
 After felt, a long walk/bike ride, and lunch we started in on pie baking.
Adelle is a natural in the kitchen. I love it. She totally did her own pie crust and then showed the boys the steps to get it into the pie plate and crimp the edges. 
 Here they are working together, following her instructions. FYI using coconut oil instead of shortening makes a delicious, flaky pie crust. 
 The kids are all making each other a present this year. Like, they are all getting one that the other three made. This is Emmett's Green Ninja Puzzle. He's going to LOVE IT! The kids are doing such a good job working hard on each others gifts. That's Christmas to me!
 Here is Gage before bed tonight mid fit because he wants that pumpkin pie so bad! He kept walking over and hanging on the cutting board trying so hard to reach and when I said, "no, no, Gager he would turn around and throw himself on the floor and throw a fit. It was really funny. Tomorrow he will get pie with the rest of us but darn it, not tonight!

We have done a couple nights of caroling. The kids are loving it. I must say going to friends/family and singing Christmas Carols is one of my most favorite traditions. We sing songs the whole drive and before each house we take turns deciding which one we will sing at their door. The kids love doing this. Braxton the other night asked me why no one comes to our house and sings. It was so sweet. Lots of families this year told us that we are the only people they know who still Christmas carol. Yes! I hope my kids always love to do this!
Here they are tonight after we got home. Just being silly with their new rendition of "What does a Fox say."

And as a side note; what is this whole What does a Fox say thing about? I totally don't get it at all. The kids watched this at school and then our friends told us about it? What? Is this educational? Silly? I don't get it. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Special Awards

 We were invited to the school last Thursday morning for a special assembly. Both the kids received awards. The Citizenship Award was given out after the perfect attendance award. Braxton and Adelle both got the Citizenship Award. They are so good. I wish they would have had all the kids who got the Citizenship Award walk up to the front but they didn't. They just had them stand where they were. They announced Adelle's first and then after Adelle Ashmore they called out over the loudspeaker "Brayden Ashmore" so poor Braxton wasn't sure what to do until his teacher assured him that was him, they had just pronounced his name wrong. Or essentially just said the wrong name altogether. Good thing this wasn't his first rodeo! He didn't seem to really mind. He had been excited about Adelle receiving her award. Such a good big brother.
 Here he is from across the gym looking all cool! 
 And little Miss Adelle. She knew the Assembly was today and that she would be getting an award because she brought Jeff and I the invitation. 
So when she wanted to wear her Christmas dress today I had to say yes. Just too cute this girl. It's a PE day so of course she is wearing her sneakers and the pink leggings were just a bonus to keep her legs warm I guess. 
 The last award was titled "The Special Award". The Principal told each teacher they were to pick one of their students for the special award. Each teacher picked their own criteria for the award and their student.
Adelle's teacher got the microphone. She began by telling everyone in the audience that she has a moto that she says every morning with her students.  The moto is something about doing your best and working hard, being kind.... She continued by saying the student she chose was one who lives by every word in that motto every day. She said that the student she picked is always kind. She said that she has never heard anything unkind come out of this students mouth. She said that this student is always the first to obey and the first to be a good friend. She said this student works hard and helps everyone around her. 
(So I am sitting there and I am like this is totally Adelle)
She then announced, "The speical award from Mrs. Hunters class goes to.... Adelle Ashmore."
 Here is Adelle shaking Mrs. Hunters Hand

Mrs. Hunter came up to me during the assembly and told me what an absolute joy Adelle is to have in class. She said she has never seen a little girl with so much love in her heart and it made me cry right then and there. 

I am so, so, proud of these kids Braxton and Adelle. They are so wonderful and they aren't just wonderful for me. They just are wonderful. I love going to the school or to church or wherever we are and people come out of their way to tell me how much they love my children. I don't think there is any greater compliment that I could possibly receive. My heart is so full of love for these little ones. They are shining stars and I am thankful to know that they are growing up to be really good, kind and considerate people.

Adelle's class is unlike anything I have ever experienced. There are so many children with so many needs. There are multiple language barriers, there are various levels of social skills, there are many behavioral problems... It's a challenging environment but one that I have seen Adelle really make the most of. She is always positive about school. She has been treated unkind numerous times but she is always the first to forgive and move on. I am so proud of this little lady. She is young and sweet and yet she is so mature and conscientious.  She is totally thriving at school and letting her bright light shine.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

and so this is Christmas

 In the beginning of the month we made salt dough ornaments galore. Actually we did salt dough and then we also did this one that was cornstarch and baking soda and we liked it better than the salt dough. 
 My kids just love to paint and glitter pretty much anything.
 They are all so good at it too!

 I went to my Grandma Mary's to visit and unexpectedly came home with Christmas decorations galore. We already have way more than we have room for but there was something really special about my Grandma's ornaments. I found some that her and my Grandpa had gotten on different trips they had taken together and it was sentimental to me. So I made a wreath for our front door, all with bulbs and ribbon from my Grandma's old tree. 
 Going to get the good old tree was an option this year. I know, what?? It's a long time tradition and we "always" go together, all of us, to the tree farm and we all pick out the very best tree and yada yada yada. Well, this year that wasn't the case. It was like 18 degrees. Jeff wanted to go, I didn't. He asked who wanted to go and I asked who wanted to stay home and be warm. There you have it. Jeff, Brax, and Adelle ventured out and came home with the greatest tree and Emmett, Gage and I stayed home and were warm. Everyone was happy! So non-traditional though, I know. 
 The lights are lovely, I love the kids on the porch. They are freezing.
 Here is Brax holding the tree center. 
 The traditional cookie plate from Auntie Angela. Here are the kids deciding on their 1st pick. 
 Braxton reading a Christmas book to Adelle and Emmett. Probably my favorite picture yet this season. Totally candid.
 All bundled up and ready to go. Gage loves to be outside, even when it's freezing.
 Here are the boys one day when we ventured out to the store during the cold spell. 

 I got to spend a Saturday morning with some friends hanging out and making Christmas goodies. Love these ladies!! This is a tradition that Meghan hosts every year and it's always such a jolly old time. 
 Lots of projects being worked on around here. It's a very homemade Christmas this year and we are totally getting into it. Jeff is awesome at projects. The perfect Santa. Emmett's a pretty good little elf too ;)
 My favorite wreath I made a few years ago is officially outdated. My little Gager's hand isn't on it!! I still love it though and I am yet to get motivated to do another one. 
 I got pretty sick. Like down and out for a while. Really hard on everyone. This is what the afternoons would look like. All the kids on my messy bed, making more of a mess with pictures and homework and... 
 Gage mastered nose blowing.
 It is pretty much hilarious and adorable.
 I have so many pictures of him doing this. The funniest part is he never even had a runny nose he just watched me do it so many times he caught on. 
 Emmett colored me so many pictures. Best little color-er ever!
 My mom came and got the kids one night and took them to the mall to dinner, ride the train and buy these "cute" hats. Laugh out loud! Thank goodness my mom came and rescued my kids. They were getting a bit stir crazy. They are so, so, good. 
 I totally thought Braxton had more fashion sense than this. How disappointing. 
 Jeff took the kids to the Christmas Party at church. Santa was there. Adelle wants a pink guitar? Most random girl/gift ever. 

 Emmett is really thinking about Santa and really curious about how he knows what he wants, how he knows if he's bad or good... Smart boy!
 And Brax just looks way too big to be on Santa's lap. How did that happen?

I couldn't believe I was too sick to go to the Christmas Party. So sad. I was even in charge of the dinner for the darn thing. Thankfully I got everything I could get done early, and I had a great committee who tied up the edges and made it all happen that night. 

While my family was gone that night I sat in front of the Christmas tree and sulked. Not really. For real I sat in front of the Christmas tree, listened to Christmas carols  for the first time all season and cried. Seriously. I cried about the songs I heard. Cried at the thought of how awesome my family was and how well they were all keeping it together. Cried at how thankful I am for my life and my health. Cried as I looked at the tree and recognized all the familiar ornaments;
the red glitter balls ( I miss you Andrea!!)
the stars
the homemade ones by the kids
the annual Grandma and Grandpa Johnson ornaments
the teacups from when my sister and I got married
the ones from Jeff and mines first Christmas
the ones of all our babies firsts Christmases...

 We finally got around to making our count down links mid December. Less anticipation that way we've discovered accidently ;) Adelle and Emmett cut the strips and Braxton taped the links and connected them. 
6 more days!!
 Adelle, Em, and I made the infamous Nuts & Bolts. This is a yummy snack that my Great Grandma made. Now my Grandma makes it, my mom makes it, and I make it with my kids. My kids love it. Gage was pointed and screaming for it all night. When we gave him his dinner he threw it all on the floor and then pointed at the nuts and bolts and started grunting. So funny, but not!

 Jeff turned 32! It was special. It was the first day I was really feeling better. He had a good day. Got some nice cards, bacon waffles, some money, a cool SuperMan/Batman shirt, a cast iron skillet, a pencil (from Brax)... Best of all I cooked him a Prime Rib birthday dinner. It was the first prime rib I have ever even cooked and it was so delicious.
Braxton said it was what he wanted for his birthday dinner next year. Ha! I told him his daddy was really, really, special and that one day when he was a daddy maybe his wife would make him prime rib. ;)
I love my husband he is the BEST! 
 Every year I make a photo ornament and this is this years. I love it. It's that dough I mentioned earlier, with a mod-podged picture, and then while the mod podge was still wet I sprinkled white glitter on it too. It adds beautifully to the collection. 
 Here are the goods after we packaged them all up. Next step, caroling and dropping them off with some of our favorites. This is the hardest part. I always want to give gifts to everyone. And singing, we always want to go to everyones house caroling but hauling in and out of the car can only really be done so many times in an evening. Time is getting away!!
 This little elf joined our house for the season thanks to Jeff's mom. He's been an exciting part of the mornings around here. 
 Couldn't blame him for finding the stock pile and getting into the goodies  ;)
Couldn't blame this little one either ;0