29 December 2017

Christmas 2017

I want to capture a few moments from Christmas this year that I want to always remember (and share with my family who lives far from me).

We had our fourth-annual shepherds' meal the Monday before Christmas. We usually try to do it earlier in the month, but I ordered usable oil lamps from Greece, and I waited until they arrived before we had our dinner. I looked at ordering some from Amazon, but none of the ones I found were actually usable; they were just meant for decoration. Anyway, I love my lamps. LOVE. And we didn't set the house on fire, so it was a win.

Last year I bought Trixie an adorable Christmas dress from somebody for about $10. It still fit this year. Then my brother brought me all of his little girl's old clothes, and suddenly we had two more in her size. I had Trixie in one of those dresses at every opportunity. Getting a decent picture of her in the dress proved to be the challenge.

After church one day in the dress from last year:

Ward party in the green dress:

 After church on Christmas Eve in the other red dress:

Isn't Felicia adorable too? She only had the one red dress, but she wore it well. (Trixie wore it two years ago.)

My father-in-law retired this month, and when we went to his retirement lecture we happened upon some event going on in the same building where Santa was, so both boys got to see him very briefly. Ike is wising up to the Santa business, and thanks to watching Home Alone for the first time, he told me that he didn't see Santa, but he did see one of his helpers.

I am the [totally inadequate and underqualified] choir director in my ward. This year we usually had practices at our house. We had amazing turnout this year as we prepped for our Christmas Eve program. The Priests' Quorum (young men aged 16-18) were being bribed to attend, which meant I had way more basses than ever and I ended up begging my ward for sopranos to balance them out.

Trixie enjoyed having people over. She loves attention, and she loves to lead music. One day she brought her giraffe costume (best $10 I ever spent) downstairs and had somebody put it on her. Then she pushed me off my stool (I need it when I conduct in the chapel, and I like to practice on it so I don't fall off) and led the music herself. And even though I look horrific, here's a funny photo:

On Christmas Eve we went to Grandma Great's house for dinner. Eric's mom bought these adorable little nativity costumes a few years ago, so the kids stood around while we read the Christmas story from the Bible. Trixie was an adorable angel.

Santa brought Nerf guns and bullets for the little boys. They were confiscated for misuse (shooting at each other resulting in a welt on one little boy's neck) within a couple of hours. We've already had to set pretty strict limitations on what can be shot at (targets that are not living things). (Who would have guessed that weapons would lead to these kinds of problems?????) (Answer: Eric knew. He told the boys that Santa doesn't deal in arms, but I told the boys Santa would deal in arms if mom and dad said it was okay, and mom and dad said it was okay. FOOLISH. Last year Santa brought them light sabers. We really need to be more restrictive on what toys that man brings to our home.)

We bought Elise this little puppy that she can pull along by his leash. She adores it.

This past summer a friend gave Eric this 1868 edition of Harper's Weekly. I had it framed for him for his Christmas gift.

But his real gift was all these little soldiers, which he claims are for the boys. These are the same soldiers that Eric and his brothers grew up playing with. They are 1/72 scale soldiers from the Napoleonic wars. Eric spent hours making these buildings out of blocks, rock walls out of tiny rocks from our back yard, and little fences too. He also adapted the model trees he bought to stabilize them.

For Christmas day I made chicken biryani (an Indian dish that is very Christmasy because it has cloves, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon), and we took it to Eric's parents' house. (This has been our tradition for a few years now, and I love it.)

We opened a few gifts at Eric's parents' house and played all day. Eric's mom instituted a new tradition that she grew up with. She has a cookie jar full of pennies, and each child gets one turn to reach his hand in and grab as many pennies as he can. Then he gets to keep them. It was a hit.

Eric's uncle Robert was also there for Christmas day. He and Trixie have a special bond, and he has been very generous to us. He came back the day after Christmas to give Trixie another Christmas present.

Also, the day after Christmas, when we got Trixie out of bed she ran downstairs to see if there were more presents to open. She isn't quite old enough to understand Santa this year, but she definitely understood the concept of presents, and it was fun to watch her.

The rest of Christmas break has been full of cousin time. We have loved being together with very few obligations.

11 December 2017

Ike is Seven

Somebody praised me this past weekend for keeping up with my blog, and I thought, "Uh, if writing birthday posts qualifies as keeping up, then thanks." With that said, last year it took me a few months to write Ike's birthday post, and this time it's only taken a few days!

For his actual birthday we went to Chick-Fil-A (because I had a gift card). Then we drove around to see Christmas lights, particularly a couple of local houses that have lights that sync to music. The day after his birthday was my father-in-law's retirement lecture at BYU, so we went to hear him speak. Afterwards we had a big lunch, and everyone sang to Ike for his birthday.

Ike's middle name is FUN. (It's not actually, but maybe it should be.) He loves to play, especially with friends. Playing is what motivates him to get his work done. At seven years old, Ike has a handful of responsibilities around the house. He makes sure his laundry is where it goes (whether that be the dirty clothes basket or, if clean, then put away in the closet and drawers). He helps with the small rubbish bins around the house. He puts away the dishes he can reach, wipes down the table, and sets the table for meals. He puts his own toys away and does a lot of general helping as needed. Yesterday that involved holding a very tired and crying baby while I cleaned up the house and prepped it for the ward choir to come practice. He also practices piano, sometimes happily, but sometimes not. It depends a lot on what he is learning. Here we are playing a little duet we've been working on. (P.S. I love PianoMarvel. I haven't talked to you about it, it's probably because we don't talk often enough. It is a great program.) (When I try to link to the website, it just won't work, so we'll do this the old fashioned way: https://www.pianomarvel.com/).

When Ike isn't playing with friends, he likes to play with his brother. They have been taught in the ways of their father and enjoy setting up detailed battles with army guys. I'm sure they play other things too, but they are usually in the basement, and I don't really know what goes on down there.

Ike is a great student. He reads well, and his teacher praises him as the Eagle Scout of her classroom. We had Ike work on writing all summer long, much to his dismay. (I really didn't want him to regress in reading and writing over the summer. Reading, I think, is easy to keep up with, but not so much with writing. I don't think there are many reasons for a kid to sit down and write unless that kid really enjoys it.) When he started the school year his teacher said he had the best handwriting in the class.

Other highlights from the last year:

  • He finally lost a tooth! (And then a few more after that.)
  • Ike learned to tie his shoes. We had tried to motivate him, but ultimately it was his first grade teacher who provided the adequate motivation to get him to learn. (I don't even know what the motivation was, but it worked. Once he was ready to learn, he learned in about 10 minutes.)
  • He learned to swim. He's not spectacular, but sometime in the summer's swimming lessons things started to "click" for him.
  • He's a great hiker.
  • He is such a huge helper with his little sisters. He really loves them.
  • He started reading with inflection, and he doesn't sound like a robot anymore. (Again, thanks to his first grade teacher!)
  • We finished his soccer season in the spring, and now we're just taking a break from all extracurricular things.
  • We discovered he has a pretty bad horse allergy. It's a bummer.
I love my little boy, and stereotypical as it is, I can't believe how big he is getting. He is so full of excitement for life. He has a lot of questions and likes to ask me lots of "what if" questions. He still holds my hand when we go places, but I'm usually the one to initiate it.

And here are some pictures:

Spring soccer with a very pregnant mom coach:

Holding his newborn sister:

For our family reunion my father-in-law had the grandchildren memorize sections of "The Living Christ" and recite it. Here is Ike helping his little brother with his lines. (We had practiced both parts so much that Ike and Felix knew each other's parts, but I think Felix froze up for a second.) (Mom still remembers their parts too.)

From a hike to Stewart Falls:

The day after his birthday in the Skyroom restaurant:

01 December 2017

Felicia: Five Months

Oh how I love this little girl. She is a pretty mellow baby, especially after she's eaten. Except, not RIGHT after she's eaten. Immediately after she's eaten she seems to always be really sad that it's over.

She loves to grab her feet and is getting better at using her hands. She loves to hold onto my clothes or hair when I'm holding her. She also frequently reminds me of Ike because she balls up her fists and holds her hands to her chest, like Ike used to do.

Felicia still loves snuggles. If she is not being snuggled and we plop her on the floor, she immediately rolls to her belly. She is content on her belly for a bit, but inevitably she gets frustrated after a few minutes and cannot seem to remember anymore how to get off her belly. She has also learned to rotate while on her belly. I think there is a slight chance she'll be crawling within a month.

I posted a picture of Felicia on Instagram, and my brother created this side-by-side of his daughter at about 17 months. People frequently ask me who she looks like since she doesn't look like the other kids. She looks like me and my side of the family, as you can see!

This month I sleep-trained Felicia. The sleeping arrangements we had going on in our family were just ludicrous, and it was time to get her to sleep for more than an hour at a time in her own bed. We are all sleeping better now. Except naps. Her naps are still terrible.