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!