Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 2008

We spent Christmas Eve at my mom's house.
We had a nice dinner with ham, a baked potato bar,
salad, jello and more. We had a white elephant gift
exchange for adults and then one with the kids.

Christmas day we packed up and headed to Great Wolf indoor water park.

We were on the 7th floor. This was the view from our room.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More snow pictures!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Out and the snow.

My Grades!

After days of the server being too busy, I finally was able to check my grades!



Qtrly: Gpa Cr 13.0 Cr Earn 13.0 P/S Cr 0.0 Grpts 51.1 GPA 3.93

I made the Honor Roll! I think the last time I did that was....NEVER! I'm kinda bummed about the A- in Digital Photography, but whatever, I'll live. I'm just glad it wasn't a B. YAY, ME!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"The worst day of my life!"

My cute, cute, sweet little Ashy, had to go in Friday and get some dental work done. He had a few cavities and the dentist decided to put caps on his teeth as well, for preventative measure. Anson and I weren't allowed in the room while the Dentist was working. They of course had to give him anesthesia. After about 20 minutes the dentist came in to talk to Anson and I and told us that it went well, that he's in recovery and will be in shortly. Ten minutes later they wheel my sweet baby into the room and my heart just sank.
(Pictures are of before he saw the dentist..hence the smile) He was able to keep the little socks on his feet. They are the socks with traction on the bottom so that you don't slip. Ashton said it felt like a rice cakes! :)

He was lying on the bed, his eyes groggy, his face red and swollen, an I.V in his hand and he just looked miserable. Anson gave him a hug and then he reached for me. The nurses said that he would wake up VERY grumpy due to the medicine. I wasn't prepared for just how grumpy. He started crying and touching his mouth telling me it hurt and he didn't like it and just wanted to "leave this place." The nurses said he needed to eat a popsicle or drink some juice before we left. He tried the popsicle first but couldn't close his numb mouth around it and began to cry. I held the juice up to his mouth and he only got in half as much as what left the cup. The rest went down his chin and onto the blankets on top of him. He was not happy at all, he was in pain, crying, not wanting to be there, trying to get dressed and just inconsolable.

FINALLY, we were able to leave and got into the car. I sat in the back seat with him to try and keep him calm. He cried and told me he hated his mouth this way and it was the worst day of his life. I was helpless. I couldn't take his pain away. I just had to reassure him that it would get better soon. He just wanted to get home. The closer we got to home the calmer he was. It probably helped that we said he was in charge of video games all day long and could do whatever he wanted. Anson and I felt SO guilty! We also gave him medicine and he began to calm down. He went to sleep just fine that night, but a couple of hours later he woke up in pain. We sat with him and hugged him, gave him medicine and water and he laid back down.

This morning we needed to brush his teeth and keep the area around the gums cleaned so he doesn't get an infection. His gums were still swollen, but he brushed and I brushed. My husband took the kids out in all this snow, ran some errands, grabbed some lunch and headed over to Portland to visit his mom. While he was out I got Ashton to take a nap and finished reading, "New Moon". (which was great by the way.) Anyway, Ashton is feeling better now, not fully himself yet, but getting there.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Service Family Disco

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Break dancing boys!

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It's snowing!
The schools FINALLY closed
and my boys were more than excited
to stay home today. They went outside before I even got
out of the shower this morning!
I got ready quickly and went outside too.

My son wrote his name in the snow...
I'm just happy he decided to do it with with his feet,
if you know what I mean.

Don't they just look thrilled that I'm taking their picture?
Take two.
A couple smiles and eye contact this time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Card

For those of you who's address I do not have, this is for you!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Celebrating 3 years!

3 years ago this month, I went and had eye laser surgery.

It was a very quick procedure, but for me, very painful. They used some sort of device to keep my eyelids from closing, so that they can perform the surgery. They told me to keep my eyes
relaxed and gave me a stuffed animal to squeeze if I needed to. They do your right eye first and then your left and I'll tell you why.

Your left eye is bigger than your right. The thing they used to keep my eyes from closing HURT SO bad when they put it on my left eye. I of course started freaking out. They told me to squeeze the animal. Yeah, that didn't help. It hurt the entire time it was on. The pain I felt that night doesn't compare to anything I have felt before...EVER. Not even childbirth. I had 3 babies, two of them without drugs and one of them being a whoppin' 9 lbs. 12 oz. If I had to choose between eye surgery and childbirth, I choose childbirth!

The white parts of my eyes bruised, turning red and yellow. I was creepy looking!
As they were doing the procedure my husband and kids were there looking through the observation glass and said that they saw my eyeball smoking from the laser. EW!

So after it was all said and done, it has been the best thing ever. I no longer need to wear glasses or contacts. So here is a trip down memory lane. Go ahead and have a laugh at my expense!

You don't know how many times I
was asked if my glasses were on upside down!

And to my 6 year old, Ashton who looked at these pictures
and said I looked like a nerd...thanks, appreciate it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gingerbread Houses

The last couple of years in December, I would buy all kinds of candy for the boys to make gingerbread houses and then have them make the actual houses with graham crackers. Why? I don't know, maybe because I don't bake. Last week at the grocery store I found Betty Crocker pre-made gingerbread something or other packets where I just had to add oil, water and an egg. That's easy enough, I can do that. So, I spent yesterday cooking up the gingerbread.

When the kids got home from school today, they were able to make the houses using all kinds of delicious treats like candy canes, skittles, m&ms, gumdrops, bubble gum and other stuff. I posted pictures below and the houses were very poorly constructed as you will notice. I finally figured out the best way to make them while building my fourth house. Toothpicks were my friend! Try not to look too close.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A New Kind of Christmas Tradition – Family, Caroling, and the Tornado Water Slide

I remember being a child with all of the excitement of Christmas surging through my veins as I anxiously awaited the Christmas morning ritual: wake up before my parents were able to even get into their first cycle of REM sleep stage, rip the covers off their bed (thank goodness they were too tired after wrapping presents the night before to – uh – wish each other a merry Christmas, if you know what I mean) dig into my overflowing stocking (which was mostly full of an orange), eat cold breakfast cereal, and then open gifts. The cold breakfast cereal tradition is interesting to me now that I have children, because as I grew up my mother tortured all of us children with warm breakfasts like French toast, oatmeal, pancakes, and biscuits with gravy. We NEVER got cold cereal, especially really awesome cereal that really no self respecting company should even call breakfast cereal, such as the bowl full of cookies that tasted more like packing foam discs, or Lucky Charms, which incidentally has more marshmallows now than the little cat food shaped sugar coated cereal kibbles. I am sure there is something healthy in those bowls of cereal somewhere… I am sure. So getting cold cereal with store bought milk (oh, and I grew up on powdered milk, so store bought milk was a real treat too) was something we looked forward to all year long. When my children grow up they are going to complain that I tortured them with cold cereal, so a hot breakfast was really something special.

There was one Christmas in particular that seemed to start my skepticism of the whole Christmas facade. I was about 10 years old and after all of the gifts were opened, and we ate leftovers for lunch from the day before, I was already more or less bored with most of my gifts. My family was all off somewhere individually doing their own thing and I felt let down. I didn’t believe in Santa anymore (I stayed up all night when I was 7 years old to expose the lie that is Santa Claus) and my family was concentrating on their own gifts, and it seemed like all of the excitement leading up to Christmas had been deflated like a balloon that someone just let go without tying a knot in. It is almost like when a movie gets talked up like crazy, and then when you see it, it wasn’t as good as you thought it would be… only 10 times worse of a let down.

Since then I have been careful to pay close attention to what I liked about Christmas and what bugged me about it. I love the family get togethers. I hate black Friday (what do you mean there is only one laptop at that price per store… I have been waiting in line since 3 am in 14 degree weather… youre giving me something NOW or I am pulling the fire alarm!).

I love the food at Christmas but I hate the kids asking for everything they see on TV. I love to see the kids eyes as wide as saucers when they open their gifts Christmas morning. I hate that those same gifts are abandoned after exactly 2 hours and 57minutes of play and end up in the spring garage sale (there goes $500 per kid each year). I love the Festival of the Nativities at church and the awesome spirit I feel when I am there. I hate that empty feeling I get when the kids have opened their gifts and they are back to playing their old video games by noon on Christmas day. I could go on and on. Suffice it to say Angela and I have been brainstorming things to do on Christmas to make it more about what Christmas is about… giving our money and souls to corporate giants - Oh, I mean celebrating the birth of Jesus the Christ. So after so many years of saying that we are tired of giving in to the commercialism of Christmas and that we will do something different next Christmas, and then the next year sneaking up on us and doing nothing different, we finally figured out what to do. We are doing LESS! Yes, less is more, and when we combine doing less with service to others and family time, I think we have a winner on our hands. We are hoping our Christmas holiday will go something like this:

Christmas eve we always spend at Angela’s parents house. We always have a great time together and it is something all of us, including the kids really look forward to each year.

We do a white elephant gift exchange, eat lots of great food, play the Wii, laugh, play board games, and just be together as a family enjoying each other’s company. Angela’s parents I believe have felt something similar to us in some ways and have asked that none of their children get them gifts (yeah, that only works if they don’t give gifts to their children as well), and they promised they would not give gifts to their children, but would get their grandchildren some gifts. They acknowledge that the best part of Christmas is being together, and the gifts only add unnecessary stress and obligation on everybody’s part. So, we have a great time and we feel very good doing this, so this will remain unchanged this year.

Christmas morning our children will probably wake up before us and go downstairs and get into their stockings full of goodies and a small gift or two. This is our first year in our new house and it will be cool for the kids to walk down the staircase and see the tree lit up in the morning through the banister rails with huge smiles of Christmas wonder and joy on their faces. It is a scene straight out of a hot cocoa commercial in my mind. That is how I have it in my head anyway. Reality will probably dictate that the youngest will drag the other two out of bed (literally) and wrestle them to the ground in their underwear before riding the bean bags down the steps and putting a hole or two in the wall at the end of the stairs with their elbows, knees, and heads.
That will erupt in tears and screaming and another trip to the ER. I actually considered getting special insurance coverage through State Farm that would pay me $100 for every trip I made to the ER with the kids. It turns out for a couple of years it would have been a wash and I wouldn’t have really made anything but would have just come out even. I know, I shouldn’t try to profit from my children’s misfortunes, but hey, as often as they were ending up there for broken bones, stitches, other weird sicknesses etc, I may have been able to make a little on the top.

Anyway, back to the Christmas plan. After I get up on that wonderful Christmas morning and make breakfast for the boys and Angela, we will get dressed and go caroling to a couple of convalescent homes where many elderly people who are lonely will likely receive no visitors that day. We will come bearing small gifts as tokens of thanks to them for what they have added to our world. Everyone adds something of worth, no matter how they may have lived their lives. We all have others to thank for their generosity they have shown to others that is part of the infinite interconnectedness that we enjoy. Taking a couple of hours and hopefully bringing a little joy to others who may not be having as great of a Christmas morning is the least we can do as a family and brothers and sisters to these fine people.

After we get home from visiting the elderly we will open our few gifts that we have bought or made for each other. We are only giving… maybe two gifts of little monetary value to each child. This is very different from years past, and we were worried it would be a shock to their system, or it would cause post traumatic stress disorder, or maybe they would think we got robbed Christmas morning. So, we have been preparing our children all year long to not expect an ocean of gifts that we have to swim through this Christmas morning. They are fine with it too, which speaks to the maturity of our boys in this matter. We told them that Christmas is not about getting and giving gifts, but we celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth on this day and the amazing life he led and infinite sacrifice he made for all mankind, which was the ultimate selfless gift.

If Jesus is our example, then ought we not do something to make others feel good who are not expecting it? His gift to us made it possible for us to be together forever. So we wanted to honor His life by doing something for others (the caroling) and then doing something together (that leads me to the next part).

After we are done with gifts we will pack up the car and go to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound WA. It is a little over an hour away and is an enormous indoor water park and hotel all in one.

What is so great is that it is a hotel and the place is not crowded like a normal water park because only hotel guests are allowed in. This is how we will celebrate being an eternal family on Christmas. Let me ask you, the one reader who has actually read this far: can you name all of the gifts you received four years ago? Two years ago? Ten years ago? No, but you can certainly remember many fine details of the family trip you all took during the summer of 1987. Remember how Cindy Lauper was the diva of the day and the coveted red Michael Jackson pleather jacket was impossible to find or afford… but you certainly had a pair of parachute pants and could moonwalk with the best of them. If you are female, you had some great leg warmers and mini skirts I bet. My point is that we all remember experiences and not arbitrary things we got as gifts. Sure, we do remember some gifts, but that is only because we tied an experience and feeling set along with that gift, so it was coded into your long term memory. I remember that my parents got me a Nintendo for Christmas in 1989, complete with the duck hunt and Mario brothers. I remember that gift well, not because it was a great gift that I had been coveting, but rather because I thought to myself, “Wow, they really don’t know what I like do they”. So I smiled and thanked them for it and asked if I could return it and buy a Karaoke machine instead. They were thrilled because they would rather I had a karaoke machine also. Them getting me a gift I really didn’t want was my fault for being an typical teen that only communicated with my parents in grunts, shoulder shrugs, and one syllable answers. BUT, I remember vividly every trip we took together as a family. They were great, even if I did complain about being cooped up for two weeks in a car or truck.

So this Great Wolf Lodge is our family gift to ourselves. We can play in the water and the kids are free to play where and when they like. We can race them down slides, and we can have a great time together. When I get tired, I can chill in the hot tub with Angela. There are TONS of lifeguards and staff to assist the kids when needed. They have a cool tornado looking slide that we can ride together as a family in a giant raft. Then we can eat there at their restaurant, participate in other fun activities, and then when we are done, we will head to the hotel room there at Great Wolf that caters to kids, and read the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2 and talk about Christmas as a family and what we are doing this year that is so different. How great is that! We are hoping it will be a fun filled family mini vacation. We will check in at 4pm and then play the rest of the day on Christmas. The next day we are welcome to play in the water park until 4 pm, at which time we will head home and relax while we watch movies and eat junk food.

In the end I think we will spend about 80% less money this year,

which is nice, and our family should have a wonderful memorable time together. Of course Angela will take lots of pictures for us to put in our Christmas keepsake album that we will start this year documenting our alternative Christmas lifestyle. I am convinced that this will take much of the commercialism out of Christmas and put our family back on track to really celebrate Christmas the way I think will be best for us.

I know that many families take off and head to Hawaii for Christmas, or Cabo, or Florida, but for most families, like mine while we are still in school, that isn’t financially feasible each year. We are left to do things the way Wal Mart and Best Buy want us to… or are we? Check it out – This Great Wolf mini vacation full of family fun experiences only costs us $199. You have to ask the person who is doing your reservation on the phone for the promotion price of $199, otherwise it will cost you $340.00 for one night there. So, with not concentrating on the dozens of expensive presents like we have in the past and the low cost of this mini vacation, we can spend less and have more fun than ever on Christmas and make it meaningful. Next year, we are already thinking ahead and may rent a cabin at Mt Hood and spend Christmas snow tubing.

So we will keep you all posted about how it all turned out. Maybe your families can join us! Remember to ask for the promotion price though. We would love to share such a wonderful holiday with your family too!