Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rocket man

My dad introduced all the kids to model rockets this year. It began when he brought a rocket and launcher to the park during our week together at Christmas. The kids were completely enthralled and loved launching (and chasing) it over and over again.

Well, you can imagine their joy when Grandpa gifted them each their own rocket. They each got to name their rocket, then one day we drove out to a big sandy field--perfect for rocket launches--to set them off.


It took delicate fingers to attach the electrical clips. Good thing kids have small hands.


Since we could only launch one rocket at a time, the other kids quickly became bored. Jeff entertained them with a race.

A California Christmas

After the fun in Arizona, we hopped back in the car for one last leg of our drive. We made it to California just in time for Christmas festivities. Since our growing family (hooray for 2 new sisters-in-law this year!) doesn't fit under one roof anymore, my parents rented a large home in Fallbrook to spend Christmas together. On Christmas Eve the cars started rolling in, and we all went into overdrive to make the day special. My dad started a turkey, Jen and I made massive grocery trips, Curtis and Katie scored a free Christmas tree, my mom decorated it with the grandkids, and I think we all did some last minute shopping. :)

We decided to go with paper products because who wants to do dishes on Christmas? There were two tables at the rental house which actually fit us all when pushed together.

Christmas Eve means Christmas jammies. I had a vision of nightgowns for my girls but couldn't find what I was looking for so I ended up making some. They turned out better than I hoped and the girls have loved wearing them. They love nightgowns but didn't have any warm ones for winter so these have been perfect.

These pajamas stole the show. Curtis and Katie found matching kangeroo onesies. Oh boy. The jokes that ensued...

Christmas morning was c-ra-zy. With so many people, there were presents everywhere. We tried to hold the kids off until 7, but I texted Jen at 6:50 to say our kids were dying. She said hers were, too, so we opened the floodgates and let them loose.

The gift opening continued all day. We had several exchanges to do, including a funny passing game where you listen to a story and pass your gift different directions every time you hear certain words.

Overall, it was a very successful Christmas! And it was only the beginning of a fun filled 11 days in California...

Arizona with Mrs. Claus

This year we decided to brave the 23-hour drive and spend Christmas in California with my family. We anticipated some bad weather on the road so we were nervous about the drive, but we managed to beat the worst of it and the kids did great. Savannah found some interesting ways to entertain herself after the second 9-hour day.

It just so happened that we were passing through Phoenix the night of my Poulsen family Christmas party, so we stopped in to see everyone. I have a ton of family on both sides in Arizona, so it was fun to see all of them. We stayed with my Aunt Debbie, who had put her entire nativity collection on display for the holiday season. Every single corner of her house had a creche in it. I was a little worried my kids would break something, but we came through without any casualties and it was so neat to look over her collection.

We were able to drop by my Aunt Marylou's house. She was celebrating a birthday, so a bunch of her kids were there, too. Score! We also had a visit from Mrs. Claus! The kids loved hearing from Mrs. Claus, who told them there is an "elf" in "self." After she left, Savannah whispered to me, "I don't think that was the real Mrs. Claus. I could see brown hair under the white." I asked if she thought it was one of Mrs. Claus' helpers and she said yes. Whoever it was, she was beautiful and wonderful with the children. :)

Even the babies got in on the fun.

I was so excited to see my cousin, Ashley. We don't see each other much anymore, and I didn't think I stood a chance of crossing paths with her this year since they are living in Finland right now. But as luck would have it, they came home for Christmas and I was able to catch up with her and see her cute family. Those cool wooden things in her hand are Finnish butter knives that she brought for us.

Cookies with Santa

Due to the snow and ice, we didn't get out to do as much in December as I had planned. As it was, we barely squeaked out a trip to visit Santa when he came to the kids school one evening. On our way in, I had the kids stop to take a picture by their school sign. I already have trouble remembering all the schools they've been to, and I'm sure this isn't the last elementary they will attend, so I need a way to document and remember. Savannah was cracking me up with all her poses, especially the one when she realized she needed to go to the bathroom.

This years' requests to Santa were Lego City Museum Break-in (Logan), a brownie maker (Savannah), and a pink Barbie (Isabelle).

Snow days

In early December, we started to hear rumors of a winter storm. At first I dismissed it, but as the storm gained ground, the grocery store shelves cleared and I began to wonder if I should be concerned. Before the storm even hit, schools were cancelled. I looked outside that morning at the dry ground and wondered if this was another case of midwest exaggeration over weather forecasts.

However... by early afternoon a few flurries began to fall.

A few hours later and I couldn't see the road.

By the next morning, we were snowbound!

Our county has very few snowplows, so when a storm hits, everything more or less shuts down until the snow melts. This particular storm shut down schools for a week! To make matters worse, Jeff was out of town when it hit. He flew back to Tulsa (2 hours away) and had to drive through terrible road conditions to get home. I was so relieved when he finally made it, safe and sound.

Once we were all together, we were able to relax and enjoy the unexpected holiday. Our front yard became the sledding hill of choice for the neighborhood. We built a small jump at the bottom and the kids played on it for days. When we moved in, we joked that we would start at the top of our stairs inside the house and sled all the way down the stairs, out the front door, and down the hill. It didn't quite work out that way, but it was still pretty fun.

I don't make a point to buy snow clothes every year like I did when we lived in Utah, so we had to mix and match to find things that fit (kind of). These 18 month pants were a bit short on Isabelle, but she didn't mind.

As fun as it was, I'm glad we don't get snow very often around here. It is difficult to be productive when you can't leave your house for days at a time. We ended up having three more snow days just after the Christmas break, so we're already looking at 8 make up school days, pushing our last day of school back over a week.

There was one really neat thing that came from being snowbound. I had wanted to invite all our neighbors over for a Christmas singalong, but I wasn't sure when I was going to find a day in December when everyone was available. When we all ended up stranded at home with cancelled plans due to the snow, I knew that was my chance. We had six families over, including 19 kids, for treats, hot chocolate, and Christmas carols. It was such a fun night and I hope we can continue it every year.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Thanksgiving and then some

This year was our first Thanksgiving completely on our own. Well, that's not entirely true. Bryson, Alyssa, and Chloe joined us, but it was still probably the smallest Thanksgiving we've ever had. I had a lot of fun planning and preparing the meal, and it was nice to have a small group to clean up after! I didn't take any pictures to document the day, but my memories are all happy ones.

On Black Friday we decided instead of tackling the sales to drive to Oklahoma and spend the weekend with our friends there. The Stuarts are pretty much living Jeff's dream life. It was so fun to spend the day with them, riding their horse, driving four-wheelers, shooting hoops, and enjoying the peaceful country atmosphere. They were kind enough to watch our kids while we went to a temple session, and Allie and I sneaked in a run first thing in the morning. Run + temple + good weather + good company... what else could we ask for?

Check out that form. As soon as the weather warms up, Logan is looking forward to some father-son bonding/practice time on the court.

Savannah was loving the four-wheelers. I hope this girl never gets her hands on a motorcycle or we could be in trouble.

I was going to edit out my baby pooch but decided to leave it to keep things historically accurate. I am so lucky to have Allie for a friend. I miss her (and her family) so much but I love that we can still find excuses to get together!