Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Train Around the Christmas Tree

Isn't it interesting and wonderful that the Christmas we create revolves around memories? One thing that I remember as a kid is spending hours playing with and trying to get our electric train to run around our Christmas tree. There was something so fun and magical about watching it slowly choo choo around the tree.

I have thought about adding it to our Christmas decor but didn't want to invest in one yet and didn't think we had the space. Well, in my black Friday romp around the stores this year I found this great little electric train on a great deal and just couldn't pass it up! We still don't have space for it to run around the tree but we set it up in the front room and play with it some days. The kids love it! As you'll see from the video, Alice wants to be a train when she grows up!

As you'll see from the video, Alice wants to be a train when she grows up!

Post Thanksgiving Frolic with Cousins

My brother and his family & Ryan's sister and her family both live in the same ward about 30 minutes away from us. We were able to hang out with Gina & Kirtis on Thanksgiving day but didn't see Dean and Kristen so we planned a little cousin get-together on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It's so fun to see the cousins getting old enough to really have fun playing together (without referees!).We had a little lasagna just to change things up after all the turkey.

Ate candy....made gingerbread houses...and ate some more candy.

Played relay games and ran around a lot. Our favorite game was flash light treasure hunt. We gave each kid a picture of something Christmas related. Then took them to different classrooms in the church. In each room they had to use their flashlight to find the a paper with their assigned picture on it. Once they gathered all 6 pictures they were done! Flashlights are just too fun!

Trimming the Tree

How We Do the Zoo

Since I watch another little girl I'm learning to really value the time that I have alone with my kids. In November Hayley had 2 days off school in a row and I didn't have to watch Jasmine on those days so we took off to play!

Day #1:
Chuck E. Cheese

What American kid doesn't have a few of these pictures from good ol' Chuck E. Cheese? It's getting pretty tricky to fit us all in nowadays. Sqeeze and say "cheese!"

Day #2:
Our DC National Zoo

Such a perfect day to visit the zoo...a little bit rainy (so not many people come) but not too cold! Tammy was even free that day so we got to take Aunt Tammy along for the fun.

I used to think that when we visited the zoo we had to see all the animals and power through the whole thing! I've finally learned the best way for my kids to see the zoo.

1. We try to make it there early enough for the elephant bath. It's fun to see every time!

2. We look at the map together and decide on a small area we want to focus on that day. (Pack lunch and lots of snacks and water.)

3. I take a clipboard & pencil for each kid and prepare activities for them to do as we move along (see ideas below)

4. We take our time and go at their pace...on this day we spent an hour sitting on a bench in the bird house while Hayley sketched animals and Maya found letters on signs. They were happy and learning so why hurry them!

Standing like the pink flamingoes!

Hayley's sketch of a gecko.

Hayley and Mommy sketched a Tucan together.
Hayley also likes the activity pages that the zoo provides on their website. Click here to print your own. This day we did "Zoo-per Bingo". Another big hit that we've done is to take a print out of a world map then mark on it where different animals come from.

Maya's current interest (obsession) is letters so her activity page was all the letters of the alphabet. As we walked along she looked for letters on the signs and crossed them off. It was a big hit!

The B.O.B. Stroller

My dear neighbor and friend, Erin, has this BOB stroller that she raves about all the time. She knew we were heading to the zoo so offered to let me try it out fot the day. Oh my! This is a "change-your-life" stroller!!! I never knew about this whole line of upper-end strollers. Guess I've always just kept to WalMart and Target brands (& ones that are easy to find used). This thing has a big price tag (I'll save you looking it up....$500+). Never thought I'd say it but it's worth every penny and is the new product that I drool over every time I see someone pushing one!

I can fit all 3 kids in the double version and it still feels like I'm only pushing 5lbs! Riding on air! Turns on a dime and can maneuver easily with one hand. I'm in love! I've decided that maybe one day I can buy one if I can come up with enough money by selling stuff around our house that I don't need/want anymore. It's amazing how much junk I'm finding and Craigslist is my friend. But it'll still take a while! In the's the pics of us gliding along on our ride for the day.

Our Camera Woes!

It's a sad day when your camera breaks!

One Sunday afternoon as we walked in from church, the girls were all in a great mood and looking adorable in their new Christmas dresses that Grandpa and Grandma sent and the lighting was perfect so I pulled out the camera and bribed them with chocolate to sit still for two more minutes while I snapped a few pictures...

That was the last picture that worked. After the photoshoot when I went back to look at the pictures this was what I saw...

They even sat still for quick individuals but this was all I got...

We bought our dream camera almost 5 years ago. It was a digital SLR (which means you can control everything manually if you want to) and it actually takes pictures when you push the button...not 3 seconds later. We've loved it. It helped Ryan and I pursue a photography hobby together. I took a class. We took lots of pictures...dreamed of one day starting a business but then had 2 more kids and got too busy taking their pictures to build anything but our own family. We've loved our camera.
I always thought that the end of our camera would come when one of the kids pulled it off the table, or one of us dropped it or some other tragic end. It was a little wierd that it just stopped working mid-shoot! There's nobody to blame...not even myself to be mad at! After being in denial for a while (we kept picking it up and taking a picture once in a while...hoping that it would just start working again) I did do some trouble-shooting over the phone with a canon rep. I plan on mailing it in to get a free quote on a repair. It's a shutter problem and we expect it to be expensive so who knows when and if we'll fix it?!?

In the meantime, we were finally going to get a small camera for Christmas this year. I carry too much kid-junk when I go places to also carry another whole bag just for the camera so I need one that will slip in my purse or pocket. We sped up the buying process and opened it early because who can live without a camera? I am really excited about the new camera but I'm sad that this camera is now replacing our old one instead of being a supplement to it! So this is the new little machine that will be responsible for capturing all those precious moments. One big plus of this one is that it has a now you can watch our craziness in action!

A Late Thanksgiving Report

I put together the fall party for Hayley's Kindergarten class at the beginning of November. We made this cute turkey craft and played some games. I of course got too busy and forgot to take pictures at the party but this is one of Maya helping me to make a sample turkey before we went.

My Grandma Jolley had the best songs...I have fond memories of singing at our family reunions. I was raised a long way away from Grandma so I sure didn't get to sing the songs as much as the rest of my cousins but I still remember a few. I had to consult one of my cousins to get all the words right for this one (thanks Kayelynn!)...I guess it doesn't really help if you don't know the tune...but it's a cute little story. If you want to know the tune you can give me a call and I'll sing it just for you!

Guffy the Goofy Gobbler

Guffy the Goofy Gobbler was silly as a clown,
He'd come in for breakfast when the sun was going down.
All of the other turkeys would use his feeding tray,
If Guffy would get near it they would push him right away.
But Guffy didn't mind at all cause' he kept getting thinner,
For when Thanksgiving came they picked the fat ones out for dinner.
So Guffy the Goofy Gobbler should really get three cheers (rah, rah, rah!),
Just let him stay Goofy and he'll live a hundred years!

Our Thanksgiving

Ryan's sister Gina and her husband Kirtis hosted Thanksgiving for us this year. I was so excited! I really have enjoyed hosting in the past but it was such a fabulous break to show up with my few dishes and not even have to clean my house before or after the big event. Thanks Gina & Kirtis! For pictures of the great even check out Gina's blog. (More on that later...we're camera-less right now...darn it!)

With several families, everyone only had to make a couple things each. I thought I'd share recipes for the things we took. Our friends made these two salads for the Thanksgiving that we shared with them last year and they have become a holiday tradition for us now. Great for Christmas too because they are red and green. Quick, simple and fresh! (I only managed to borrow someone's camera to take a picture of one of them...just imagine scrumptious looking food!)

Pistachio Fluff Fruit Salad

1 (20oz) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 (3oz) package instant pistachio pudding mix
1 (12oz container frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 large bananas, sliced
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 (15.25 oz) can fruit cocktail, drained
1 (11oz) can mandarine oranges, drained

Dump instant pudding into a large mixing bowl.
Add pineapple and mix well.
Mix in whipped cream.
Stir in bananas, marshmallows, fruit cocktail, and mandarine oranges.
Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Cranberry-Pineapple Salad

(This one is fabulous...even for those that don't like cranberry sauce!)

1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, undrained
2 pkg. (4-serving size each) raspberry jello
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 medium apple, chopped
2/3 c chopped walnuts

Drain pineapple, reserving liquid in 1 qt measuring cup.
Remove 1 Tbl of the crshed pineapple; set aside for garnish.
Add enough cold water to reserved liquid to measure 3 cups--pour into large pan.
Bring to a boil; remove from heat.
Add Jello; stir at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved.
Add cranberry sauce; stir. (Jello mixture should be thick)
Pour into large bowl.

Refrigerate 1 1/2 hours or until slightly thickened.
Stir in remaining pineapple, apples and walnuts; stir gently.
Pour into medium serving bowl.
Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm.
Top with reserved crushed pineapple just before serving
(14 servings, 1/2 cup each)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sleep before perfectionism

I'm usually a perfectionist when it comes to this blog. I want to design the look myself and take the time to tweek it all to get what I want. I really enjoy the process. Last night I wanted to change things to a Christmas theme. I was even going to update the side bars which are way out of date! But the result says...let me tell you about my month!

1st flu bug: Ryan then JaNae (10 days of misery!)
2nd flu bug: Hayley, then JaNae (4 days after I got better!) then Maya and Alice
Ear infections as a result of that bug: Hayley, Maya & Alice (of course we had to make 2 trips to the doctor to get all those confirmed!)
Penicillin reaction: Maya
Peanut butter reaction: Alice (yes, she's only 10 I didn't give her a peanut butter sandwich...she ate Maya's off the floor...I had been on the phone with the drs office too many times already that day...they already thought I was a crazy I just dosed her with some benedryl and all turned out well...remember I'm a tired, sick and barely functioning momma at this point!)
Stomach bug: Maya (today)...and we're waiting for the next victim
Teething: Alice...never-ending
Not sleeping all night: Everyone...with 3 kids that means a lot of random wake-ups and some very tired parents!
Refusing to sleep unless in bed with mom and dad: Alice (we've never caved in to this one for long before...I don't sleep well with 3 in bed...but we're barely making it so for now we're reinforcing this bad habit in the hope of some sort of sleep!)

So as far as blogs go...I'm throwing perfection out the window. If it didn't take any time, I'd switch back to the old look so that you didn't have to catch everything that needs to be changed. But to be honest the kids are in bed...Ryan's on a business it will be a long single-mom night. I better get a jump start!

Send a prayer this way...we need some healthy blessings around here!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hayley's School Picture

Fall 2008
5 1/2 years old

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Art of Scissors

Picture from July 08

I wanted to share this idea because I think it's brilliant (even if I do say so myself!)

This summer Maya was learning how to hold and use scissors. I sent her outside with scissors to cut the grass almost daily. It got the urge to cut out of her in a safe way and she went from two-handed cutting to one-handed in no time!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pumpkin Patch...Amusement Park

October 11th, 2008

We made our annual trip to a local pumpkin patch farm that is really more like a fall-time amusment park. So fun!

They have soooo many huge slides. Wahoo!

Cute sisters. I love how Hayley took Maya's hand in the pictures and showed her through a little slide. It's cute to see my cautious little Maya trusting her big sister.

Happy Cinderellas! How did they learn that princess wave...naturals!

We just label our kids!

[The party-planner in me has to make a sidenote: they had a great face painting station if any of you ever plan a big event. Instead of providing face painters, they just had lots of mirrors and paint and brushes and you did your own. Yes, we know we're not great artists...but they don't care...and no lines!]

Can't get enough of that gummy smile! I want those teeth to pop through but I'll miss that little empty, open mouth when they do!

Uncle Joe

Uncle Joe (JaNae's little brother) came to visit for a week on his way to BYU this summer. Yes, these pictures are from August! Better late than never!

We visited the Marine Corps Museum. On our way out we saw this massive moth on the wall of the museum. It was the size of my hand! Joe is fascinated with bugs and small creatures. I definitely don't share his passion but as long as he keeps them out of my face and doesn't leave dead specimens at my house, I do appreciate all the creatures that he notices and points out when he's around. The girls of course love having an uncle that will play with bugs with them!

We love the national park that's just a mile or two from us. Most summer visitors that we have end up there at some point. We had a picnic and went on a hike. Kids are always happiest in the dirt...I think we even had time to play a card game...rare, nowadays!

On our last day with Joe, we headed to a little water park. The best part: a cold Maya-girl likes to cuddle!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Alice is a little fish! This kid loves to splash -- she tops the "soak-mom factor" of the other two put together. I think it's all made possible by the fact that she doesn't care if water splashes in her face. In fact, she thinks it's funny!

So while Maya starts into a melt down yelling "Towel! Towel!" and stops splashing as soon as a drop touches her face, Alice just splashes more because she thinks it's so funny. It results in a very wet mom and bathroom. Unfortunately, I can't dodge too much because I have to be within arms reach to grab her when she goes under. Hopefully her wrecklessness in the tub doesn't transfer into other areas of her life...even slipping under the water just gets her excited!

If nothing else, it makes for entertaining bathtimes!

Daddy Adoration

One Sunday morning in September, I had a moment of apprciation for what a great Dad Ryan is! Don't get me wrong...I appreciate him everyday...he's amazing! But on this day I captured the moment on camera which makes it blog-worthy.

While I was getting ready for church, Ryan was getting all the girls in their dresses. When I walked in to begin doing everyone's hair, I saw these 3 cute girls surrounding their daddy. He had them captivated with some game. Their little eyes just sparkled with pleasure from the attention they were getting from their dad.

I love that Ryan has these girls wrapped around his finger just as much as he is wrapped around theirs! They are all big fans of dad and I love that. What better thing could I give my daughters that a daddy that they adore!

Words to describe Ryan, the Dad: attentive, caring, patient, sensitive, fun, imaginative.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween 2008

We pulled off our first family theme ever: Strawberry Shortcake and Friends!

Dad: Huckleberry Pie (the only boy in Strawberry Shortcake...and our family!)
Mom: Ginger Snap
Hayley: Angel Cake
Maya: Strawberry Shortcake
Alice: Frosty Puff

The girls are really into Strawberry Shortcake right now (especially Maya). I was excited when they both got really excited about picking characters for everyone. I had a lot of fun getting into Halloween for once. It was fun to make the hats and figure out everyone's outfits--the girls were so excited to all have stripe-y tights. Ryan's costume was especially-hard...I cut out an "H" and pinned it on his hat! He was a good sport!

We had a fun Halloween night trick or treating in our neighborhood then running over to the party at church where we played games and did a trunk-or-treat. Alice would have rather been in bed but by the end of the night was excited that she learned about suckers...and joined her sisters on their sugar high!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hayley: Fall 2008

School Girl Hayley has jumped enthusiastically into her first experience with school! She loves her teachers and loves all her friends. Above are pictures of a few memories from the first 2 months of Kindergarten:

  • The school Jog-a-thon...Hayley wasn't really into the jogging part but we cheered for her as she held Ms. Kellogg's hand and marched around the playground smiling.

  • The "self-portrait". Hayley had an assignment to do a family project making a self portrait. It ended up being one of our more successful FHE activities. Hayley and Maya both made one and had so much fun cutting fabric and gluing buttons. Mommy even got into it and had fun braiding yarn into hair.

  • The treasure chest. The blue teddy bear is the product of her first trip to the classroom treasure chest. The teachers tell the kids they can build a rainbow whenever they are being good or following directions. When they get 6 colors on their rainbow they get to go choose a prize from the treasure chest. Hayley lives for it! I thought the treasure chest would be all candy but I've been impressed that its cool toys that the kids are really excited about.

  • Friend of the Day:

  • In her class, they take turns being "Friend of the Day". When it is their turn they bring home the class "pet" for a night. It's a panther named Pattie. They (or their parents!) are responsible for bringing back a report in Pattie's journal telling the class what they did. It was sure fun to have an excuse to do a little digital scrapbooking, even if I was up against a deadline!

  • Learning the important things:
  • In the first week of school Hayley mastered the ability to snap her fingers and click her tongue! What skill!
  • We also make "pinkie-wishes" all the time (loop pinkie fingers with someone else and both make a wish...then whisper to each other what your wish was even though you pretend it's a secret...then giggle!)
  • About once a week I get updated on who her best friend is. We keep talking about how we want to have lots of good friends...not just one best friend. It's amazing to me how driven she is to find a best friend (even if it's a revolving door!)
  • They read a story the first week of school called "Kissing Hand". Now every morning when I drop her off I have to kiss the palms of her hand so she can put kisses on her cheeks whenever she needs them. How sweet!
  • Clapping games. Aunt Tammy has been teaching her "Down by the banks of the hanky-panky..." and other fun clapping games that have brought back all sorts of memories for me. If you have any fun them to me!
  • Through all her new socializing, Hayley has figured out what a nick-name is. Our favorite story about this was a recent conversation we overheard her having with Maya.

Someone: "Bye, Tammy"

Maya: "Hey! Her name's not Tammy it's Aunt Tammy" (said indignantly!)

Hayley: "It's okay Maya, Aunt Tammy is her full name, but Tammy is her nick-name. So sometimes people call her Tammy."

Maya: "Oh." (completely trusting that her older, school-going sister
knows these important things about life!)

  • Mom's report card on school...I'm so happy with the school and teachers. I stop in with Maya and Alice about once a week to eat lunch. It keeps me up to date with all the friends. I've also been able to go volunteer (when daddy was home one day to watch the other 2). I like getting in the classroom to understand better what her day is like. I am also so happy with our decision to drop her off and pick her up instead of using the bus. Not only do we avoid whatever goes on on the bus, but I feel like I get a daily parent teacher conference as I pass her teachers in the hall. Most days they have something to tell me--like she did really great on something or they give me a heads up about something that upset her. I find this so helpful and am grateful for how well it is all working out.
I'm planning the class fall harvest party this fun!


I've been so impressed with how Hayley's writing is blossoming. It's so exciting to me to receive cards from her with whole messages that she wrote all by herself! I'm so proud of her for trying her best even if it's not perfect.

"Mom, You are the best mom in the world. I just wanted to [tell you] I love you. From Hayley."

Hayley's also getting so good at making her own books. She writes a story and illustrates each page. It's amazing to me how many different ideas she comes up with for story lines. She can fill a whole notebook in no time flat! Here's a sample:

Once a boy planted a garden.

It grew and grew until it was time to pick.

The food was tasty.

Big Sister

Hayley is a great big sister. So often, she is the one to sacrifice in order to make peace. I'm so proud of how mature she can be when dealing with her younger sisters. Maya and Alice both love to play with Hayley. Alice perks up whenever Hayley comes into the room and waits for her attention. I love my silly girls and am so glad that they have such a great big sister to look up to!

Hair Salon

Hayley and I discovered this fun blog that shows you cute little-girl hair styles. She chooses one she likes and then we try it out. I love having new ideas...but I can sure spend a lot of time looking at them! If she gets up and gets herself ready quickly in the morning her reward is a "fancy" hair-do.

Late Nights & Free Time

Our bedtime schedule has shifted recently. Since Maya isn't taking naps anymore she has started going to be really early. Most nights she and Alice both go to sleep around 7pm (which is so early for us!) Hayley doesn't go to bed until about 9pm (she has never needed as much sleep as we'd like her to need!)

That gives us quiet, evening time with just Hayley. It seems like it's been so long since we've had this much time with just her. Mom and Dad end up bustling around for a lot of it finishing daily chores, making lunches, etc., but Hayley is getting used to finding quiet craft or journaling projects to work on. It's fun to just have her around when everything is so calm. I like to see what creative things she comes up with to make and what fun stories she writes for us.