Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Santa Sign is here!

Every year our Christmas season is marked by a series of traditional events, one of the oldest being the placing of the Santa sign. The time has finally come and the kids have hammered this poor, over-pounded sign into the ground outside our house where it will sit until Christmas day, a reminder to Santa of the good little kids living in this house.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Way to go Yellow!

I didn't want to mess with the "flow" of the Holiday Memories postings, so I've been saving this for after those were done. Now that they're completed I can fill you in on the news around here.

Tristan (aka "Yellow" to his Daddy) had his Tae Kwon Do belt testing on Dec. 8. Wow, was that an ordeal. 4 hours of it to be exact. But he did such a great job and walked out of it with his yellow belt. We're proud in all that he accomplished and are especially proud that he skipped an entire belt color, advancing 2 belt colors instead of just one. Way to go Tristan!

Here are some shots of him in action on testing day:

And here is our proud yellow belt himself:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

HM20: The New Year

It's so hard to think about the fact that a new year is rapidly approaching. Christmas is just a few days off and that's still the focus here. After Christmas though things start moving along, back into the normal rhythm of life. By New Years Eve the Christmas tree is down, the decorations have been packed away and, besides the host of extra toys, things are just as they are the other 11 months of the year.

New Years Eve will be wonderful this year. It's the first time Brian has been home with us since he started in law enforcement and we're all excited about spending it together. We actually have the option of having the kids go to my Dad's house this New Years, but there aren't any big parties or plans that we've been invited to attend so I think we'll be staying home with the kids.

New Years Eve is the only night of the year that the kids are allowed to stay up until midnight (and get to sleep in the front room) and they make the most of it. We bring out pillows, blankets and sleeping bags and make a nice comfy place for the kids on the front room floor. Then we chose a movie or two and sit down and watch them together. We play some games (I'm sure Disney Scene It! will be played, maybe some new games received for Christmas too). We munch on popcorn or make ice cream sundaes. We just enjoy hanging out together.

The kids all really try hard to stay wake. It's sometimes difficult, since they aren't used to staying up and they're so warm and comfy watching movies. Usually at least one of them falls asleep before midnight, but we're hoping they all make it thisyear.

About 10 minutes until midnight we turn on the TV to catch the ball dropping in Times Square (OK, so it dropped 3 hours ago by the time we saw it, but it's our tradition even though it's not live). We all yell "Happy New Years" and hug each other. Then we pose for our traditional first photo of the new year. Shortly after, the lights go out and we all go to bed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

HM19: The Stash

Well, this prompt will have to wait until after the big day. So look for pictures of our loot and what our faves are after Christmas. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

HM18: Christmas Day

Our Christmas Day traditions are somewhat less regimented than our Christmas Eve ones.

We are awoken early in the morning to the voices of our children trying to wake us up and asking if they can go see what they got from Santa. We try to get them to head back to bed but, of course, that doesn't happen. As soon as we're coherent enough we hop out of bed and head for the front room with the kids.

Santa always leaves them one big gift and a stocking filled with goodies. They ooohhhh and aaaahhhh over their big gift and then dive into their stockings. After about 20 minutes they are ready to move on to opening the gifts under the tree.

I usually sneak off into the kitchen to bake some cinnamon rolls for our Christmas Day breakfast. YUM!

Sometime during Christmas day we have people over. We have a "we stay home" rule for Christmas day, so if someone wants to see us they have to come over here. We usually have at least 2 sets of Grandparents, and sometimes all 3, visit on Christmas day. So after opening our gifts their are always gifts from the Grandparents to open too.

My favorite thing for Christmas Day is watching the Disney Christmas Parade on TV. I'm such a Disney freak and this one is always filled with great music, great characters and that unforgetable Disney magic!

We have a Christmas dinner in the afternoon, usually with a ham (though I'm cooking both turkey and ham this year). Then things begin to wind down. The kids open the boxes and play with all of their gifts. Brian and I try to clean up from the piles and piles of Christmas wrapping paper, empty boxes and packing materials.

By the time evening rolls around we are all tired and ready to hit the hay. Another Christmas Day is done but we look forward to the ones still left to come.

Monday, December 17, 2007

HM17: Christmas Eve

We have a plethora of Christmas Eve traditions in our household and we're looking forward to enjoying them all this year.

The first tradition is a new take on an old favorite of Brian's. When he was a kid he would watch "Santa Watch" on the local news stations. This was a program for kids keeping them up to date on the whereabout of Jolly Old St. Nick. He has such fond memories of this as a kid that when our kids were old enough he tried to introduce them to it ... only to find out that they no longer do it. But we were able to find a substitute at All day Christmas Eve the kids look forward to the hourly reports and videos of Santa's journey.

We spend some time on Christmas Eve watching Christmas movies too. My personal favorite is the 1995 version of "Miracle on 34th Street". Other favorites are "Polar Express" and the Jim Carrey version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." We'll be sure to watch one or two of those on Christmas Eve.

After lunch on Christmas Eve I always remind the kids that Santa won't be leaving presents for girls and boys with dirty bedrooms. He wants to see that the kids are being responsible and cleaning up after themselves. This means they all have some work to do and spend an hour or two (or three) making their rooms spick and span. This is the only time each year when I can get them to clean their room without delay. LOVE that!

Every Christmas Eve we load up in the van with whoever is over visiting (I think it might be my Dad this year) and drive around town looking at all the Christmas lights. This is one of those traditions that started way back when we had little children and no money. It's something we've carried on since then.

Right before heading to bed we read "Twas the Night Before Christmas." In previous years we've all cuddled on the couch in the shadow of our glittering Christmas tree and either Brian or I have read it. This year we've decided to let the kids do some reading too. I'm looking forward to having the kids read it this year.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

HM16: What does Christmas mean to you?

Today's challenge is to ask your children what Christmas means to them. Here are their answers:

  • Getting together with your family to open presents and to see each others faces when they get them.
  • Snow
  • Santa
  • Reindeer
  • Christmas Trees
  • Decorations
  • Christmas spirit
  • Happy spirit
  • Giving thanks
  • Christmas trees
  • Santa
  • Ornaments
  • Snow
  • Presents

Saturday, December 15, 2007

HM15: Christmas Season Traditions

We have a few key Christmas traditions in our home. Many of those are Christmas Eve related, so I'll leave those for a later posting. But here's a few traditions that we enjoy in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

We always go out to the tree farm to pick our own Christmas tree. It takes quite a bit of searching before we find one that I'm happy with. Each and every year Brian gets down on the wet, muddy ground to saw the tree down then he and the boys try to haul it to the car. The boys tend to drop their end so by the time we reach the car we have a half-muddy Christmas tree.

We also love to go see Santa. In previous years we had taken them to Santaland in downtown Portland, but it closed up 2 years ago. Now we take them to Santa's House in the Woodburn Company Stores. We make sure to take them between 6 & 7 pm, when there is snow falling outside of Santa's House. And even though the snow is only some sort of sudsy fake snowfall thing, we love it anyways.

Friday, December 14, 2007

HM14: Weather

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas ..."

Yes, this is me. I dream of a white Christmas. I dream of waking up Christmas morning to newfallen snow, of opening presents in front of our non-existant fireplace then bundling up to go outside to make snow angels before coming inside to warm up with hot chocolate.

Of course, I live in Oregon. It doesn't often snow here (and no, rain is not the same thing!) and it certainly hasn't snowed for any Christmas Day I've ever experienced.

But if I had a Christmas wish it would be for snow ...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

HM13: Wrapping Gifts

I'm not sure there is anything about Christmas that I don't like. I seem to find joy in everything that Christmas brings, including wrapping gifts. I really love to wrap everything.

I have a big wrapping session about a week after we put up the tree. I banish the kids to another room and turn on the animated versions of Rudolph, Frosty and The Grinch for them. Then I scurry out to the front room, put on my favorite Christmas movies (this year it was "White Christmas" and the 1995 version of "Miracle on 34th Street") and wrap to my hearts content. I don't do anything spectacular with the gifts, just wrapping paper and bows. But I have fun doing it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

HM12: Choosing Gifts

Today's challenge is to post what holiday gifts you got for everyone and why you chose them. Well, I'm not going to give you all the satisfaction. I'm going to make you wait until you open them. So there!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

HM11: Holiday Shopping

I LOVE holiday shopping. I know, I'm one of those in the minority but there's something about all that shopping that just makes me happy. I love getting into the holiday spirit early and starting my Christmas shopping in October. I love getting up at 4:30am the day after Thanksgiving and scurrying down to the store still sleepy-eyed to gather great holiday deals. I love to search the holiday ads for great deals on holiday gifts for my loved ones. And I love to have the shopping done and have them all wrapped and under the tree well before Christmas day.

Monday, December 10, 2007

HM10: Christmas Carols

I'm a music-lover at heart so Christmas carols are something that I absolutely love. There is a station in Portland that plays Christmas music 24 hours a day and I love to turn that on during my morning drive to work. The kids absolutely love my musical carousel, which plays a variety of Christmas carols. I can't say that I have a favorite one, but I certainly do love the bit of Christmas glee that they bring.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

HM9: Holiday Eating

Yummmmm ... I love holiday food. I have several must-haves each holiday season and they all revolve around my sweettooth (suprise, surprise! LOL).

My absolute favorite is nanimo bars. These are 3 layer bars. The bottom layer is a mix of crushed graham crackers, coconut, walnuts and chocolate. The middle layer is vanilla pudding mix and butter (this is the sweetest, yummiest part!) and the top layer is just plain chocolate. You chill them and cut them into squares to enjoy. I can't make these until 1 or 2 days before Christmas because I will sit and snack on them all day long. They are just sooooo yummy.

Another favorite is my homemade cheesecake. I'm not a huge cheesecake lover, but this homemade recipe I have is just so wonderful. I like to top it with sweetened raspberries. Again, this is a just-before-Christmas project for me.

My final favorite holiday food are spritzer cookies. Believe it or not, I haven't actually made these since I was a kid. My mom makes them every year and brings some over to trade them for my nanimo bars. This year I am determined to make them with the kids. My Mom got me a spritzer machine last year and I haven't yet used it.

So while I haven't actually made anything for holiday eating, I will be doing it soon. I'll post pictures of all when the time comes.

Happy Eating all!!!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

HM8: Christmas Cards

Here's my little pile of Christmas cards, all written up and ready to go. I sent 14 this year ... about the same number that I send every year. These go mainly to family member but some also go to our close friends. This year we included photos from Brian's police academy graduation. I don't send out a mass newsletter to everyone. I prefer to write personal messages, which is why it takes me 2 evenings to complete all of the cards. But they are completed and are ready to be mailed out. YEAH!

Friday, December 07, 2007

HM7: Holiday Parties

Oh, Christmas parties. Dressing up in beautiful holiday dresses, sharing bowls of egg nog and tables of holiday goodies. You always see these on TV but here in the real world it doesn't happen. At least not here in the boondocks where I live. There are no Christmas parties where you dress up and hob-nob with your friends. At least I've never been invited to one. Then again, it couldn't be that I'm a hermit, could it?!? LOL

Holiday parties ... who needs them?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

HM6: Outdoor Decorations

Each year I get the urge to put up the outdoor Christmas lights. The urge usually hits before Thanksgiving, on a day when the sun is shining and it seems perfect "lights" weather. Of course, I'm nearly always wrong about this because by the time I've gotten the lights from the attic, untangled them and readied them for hanging, evening has come and with it the cold. This year I put them up in the semi-dark with freezing cold fingers. (I will admit that Brian did come help, as I do NOT get on the roof .) Yet I was determined... I wanted them up and ready for Thanksgiving night, when we turn them on. And I did get them up and we did turn them on Thanksgiving night, despite Brian's claim that they should not be turned on until the night AFTER Thanksgiving.

This is what our house looks like now, glowing brightly in the cold winter night. Adorned with bring blue and white bulbs, flashing snowflakes and spiral tree.

Beyond the lights we have two very important Christmas additions. A fresh wreath always adorns the front door, hung with the same bow and the same jingle bells that have graced the wreath for several years.

For the kids the most important piece is the "Santa Stop Sign", which they ceremoniously hammer into the yard each year.

I really love our outdoor decorations and sharing our holiday spirit with neighbors and friends.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

HM5: Indoor Decorations

Decorating for Christmas is always fun for us. The biggest focus is the tree, but we also have a lot of little Christmas items strewn around the house.

These sleigh bells for instance. We've had them for 10 years and each years the kids truly enjoy them. They have been used in past years to simulate Santa's sleigh bells when he comes to check to see if the kids are in bed. Of course, the kids each take a turn ringing them while we are trying to find a place to put them up. Nothing like sleigh bells to wake up the holiday spirit.

I also love this Christmas carousel. It was given to me by Brian's parents many years ago after the kids and I admired it at their house. Each time we were over the kids would turn it on and watch it go round and round, light glowing, to the sound of Christmas carols. This has been a favorite of everyone's but Carissa especially loves it and has a habit of turning it on whenever the mood strikes her.

My Snowbaby collection holds a special place in my heart and in our homes each winter. My first Snowbaby was a gift from Brian the first Christmas after Chase was born. Now my collection has grown and I have several shelves of them. I love bringing them out each year.

My absolutel favorite indoor decoration, if you can call it that, are the kids Christmas stockings. I cross-stitched these stockings for the kids, finally finishing Carissa's last Christmas Eve. Now there is a complete set of stockings, homemade with love. I hope the kids will treasure these as much as I treasure the one I had as a child.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

HM4: Decorating the Tree

Well, I'm a bit ahead here today too. It was on actually decorating the tree. Since I can't seem to shut up when posting, I already talked about this. :)

Monday, December 03, 2007

HM3: Putting up the Tree

We LOVE our Christmas tree. We love picking a really big one and making Brian haul it in the house. We love putting it up and decorating it with colored lights, glittery snowflakes, Christmas balls and garlands. And the best part of it all is the crowing glory - our angel.
This angel is so special to me. Brian and I got it the first Christmas we were married. It lights up and it's wings and arms move. It is beautiful and unique and carries so many wonderful memories. It has now graced our tree for 13 wonderful years of togetherness. It just wouldn't be Christmas without her.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

HM2: Picking Your Tree

Today's Holiday Memory is picking your tree. I already posted that a few posts below this one so I'm already way ahead of the game. ;)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

HM1: The reason for the Season

We can politely be called a "non-religious family". We don't celebrate the religious aspect of Christmas. Instead we celebrate this as a season of togetherness, of cuddling up on the couch watching holiday movies, of making cookies and treats together, of decorating the house, of listening to Christmas music, of driving around to enjoy the holiday lights, of thoughtful gifts, of the magic of Santa Claus. We celebrate this as a fun season of memorable, happy times spent with one another. So while we don't celebrate the traditional way, we do enjoy our own traditions and the happiness and joy they bring to all in our family.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday Memories 2007

As part of a ScrapAddict challenge, I will be posting regular blog entries about this years holiday season. Even if you don't visit ScrapAddict, feel free to play along and jot down your families memories from this festive season.


Just for fun some of the girls at ScrapAddict have been sharing the pages from their "Colorstrology" book. Something to do with your birth date and how that corresponds to a color and description. Mine is below. I will say that it's a pretty right on description. And it's interesting to note that I'm "compatible" with March 19, however Brian was born on March 20. LOL. The color itself might well fit my attitude, but not my coloring. With red hair and pale skin I look HORRID in yellow -- even if it is disguised as "daffodil".

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Good Karma & Bad Timing ...

Well, good karma caught up with us yesterday. If you remember, several weeks ago we found an envelope of money in our local grocery store. I turned it into the customer service desk hoping that they owner would come looking for it. They told us to check back on it so yesterday I went and inquired about it. It was still unclaimed thus, as the finders, we are now entitled to it. So yesterday we walked out of the store with much more money than we walked in with. It was a great bonus to be able to add that money to our vacation fund and to know that we did all we could to return it to it's owner. It was also a great lesson for the kids, who learned a lot about doing the right thing and being good people.

Yesterday afternoon we went Christmas tree hunting. We'd seen the weather forecast and knew that the rest of the week would be rainy so we thought we'd sneak out and get a tree before the rains hit. We went to the tree farm right after picking the kids up off the bus. We had quite a plethera of trees to chose from:
We searched and searched. This one was too small, that one was crooked, the next one had holes in the foliage. We took our time and in retrospect maybe we shouldn't have because after about 20 minutes of hunting in the chilly 30degree air, the precipitation arrived. But since it was so cold outside it fell as sleet. Boy, did that force us to make a decision quickly. Not only were we cold but now we were getting sleeted on. We finally found this tree:

Brian cut the tree down and the boys helped carry (or helped drop it! LOL) to the van.We brought it home and have set it up in our house. Boy, is it a big one. Our angel just barely fits on top, despite our tall ceilings. It must be at least 7 1/2 feet tall. It's great and bushy and we can't wait to decorate it tonight!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Calling the Pixley boys ...

Wow, has the phone been ringing off the hook here. No, it's not for me, it's all part of the newest shift in our lives ... kids phone calls.

This is something that just got started last week and it has taken over like wildfire. Both Chase and Tristan have had friends calling them. Phone calls center mostly over strategy for their favorite video games.

Tristan and his friend Noah are on the phone nonstop to talk about "Animal Crossing". They'll be on the phone for 1/2 an hour and will hang up, only to call back about 15 minutes later. This continues all day long!

Chase and his friend Nick can talk forever about "Spectrobes". Sometimes they're on for an hour straight.

This newest development is going to take some adjustment for me. It used to be that I jumped up and answered the phone every time it rang. Not so anymore. Tristan usually beats me to it and smugly says "It's Noah" when he reads the caller ID.

The kids are growing and our lives are changing in ways I don't even know, but this new development is a stark reminder that the kids are quickly developing into their own independant selves.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Quote of the Day:

We took the kids to see "Mr. Magoriums Wonder Emporium" yesterday and this line just jumped right out at us:

Life is an occasion - rise to it.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Aaaaaahhhhh ...

... that felt good. 3 months worth of photos finally edited and sent to Costco to be printed. What a weight lifted there. I usually don't let photos back up on me so this has been a thorn in my side for some time. I just feel the need to keep the photos edited and printed in a timely fashion and with all going on I just hadn't been able to do so.

I did have a great time looking at all the photos while editing. There were some absolutely adorable ones. Like this one from one of our summer beach trips (Tucker LOVES the ocean!):

And this one of the kids on the last weekend of summer:
I love this "mirror" photo of my Dad when we were out on his boat:

And the kids pumpkins from Halloween:
This one my neighbor took of our kids on Halloween is great: So is this one of Carissa's soccer team:

All in all, a great group of pictures and I'm so glad they'll be in my scrapbooks soon. :)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ride Along

I had the chance to go on a ride-along with the local police department this weekend. I was originally scheduled to ride with one of the other officers but at the last minute I got assigned to ride with Brian instead. It was a bit of a surprise, as they do not customarily get to have riders during their probationary period (the first 18mos.). But I was happy to get to spend the evening riding with him, especially since I hadn't seen him all day as I'd been at Disney on Ice with Carissa.

Anyways, I rode with him from 8pm until 4am ... quite a bit longer than I expected to ride. At first he just pulled over people who had headlights out (surprisingly, a LOT of people drive around with one headlight out), those who didn't stop at a stop sign or other minor traffic violations. But later on in the evening (or morning, as it was after midnight) he headed to the only place in town with traffic this late - the highway. We rode the highway for a while and he pulled over a few people. Nothing exciting. Yet on one of his trips he clocked someone going 12 over the speed limit and decided to pull them over. Come to find out, it was a drunk driver. He did the field sobriety tests and located some drugs in the vehicle. I hung out with him long enough to watch the breathalizer test and while he took the suspect to jail. By then it was 4am and he had a mountain of reports to write. I was getting VERY tired so he dropped me at home and I headed to bed.

I loved riding along with him and seeing exactly what he does. It gave me a sense of peace to see how careful he is, how he protects himself while on the job and how he takes bad people and things off the streets. I am so proud of him and all that he does for our community.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Halloween has come and gone ...

and left a huge pile of candy in it's wake. Ugh. What am I going to do with it all?!? And no, don't say eat it. I REALLY don't need it!

Halloween was fun but very LONG this year. It started a week before Halloween with the scout Halloween party. Then there was the party at Abel & Nia's house last weekend. We topped it all off with Halloween and trick-or-treating here on home. Whew, am I glad it's over!

This years costumes were a change of pace. Chase originally wanted to be the Egyptian God Seth, who is depicted by a person in a robe with a horse/dog head. I thought it was such a neat idea and I would have LOVED to make this work for Chase. But alas, no dog or horse head to be found and I didn't know how to make one so we went with his plan B, a skeleton. We bought the shirt at Old Navy and then I cut and sewed fleece "bones" to a pair of sweats. It took quite a while but it was worth it... he really liked it and I didn't spend an arm and a leg on it.
Tristan loved his costume but was slightly disgruntled by everyone asking him "who are you?" Since his world revolves around Pokemon, he thought everyone else must certainly know that he was Mudkip. Who? Mudkip ... one of those little characters on the trading cards. Well, there is no such thing as a Mudkip costume so alas, a trip to the fabric aisle and a pair of sweats turns into this Mudkip costume. Add the blue and orange face paint and he truly looked like something out of this world.

Carissa decided that this was her year to be different. She decided to forego the Disney Princess line this Halloween ... the first year she hasn't been a Disney Princess since she was born. It was a bit of a sad moment for me and yet another reminder that she is growing up. But alas, she's not too grown up. She may have strayed from the Disney Princesses, but she couldn't leave the "pretty" behind. From the first moment she wanted to be a witch and when we came up on this "pretty witch" costume we knew it was just perfect. She was the sweetest witch in the world.

Brian had to work, so no costume for him. Well, I guess you could say he went as a police officer. LOL I, on the other hand, am working at the preschool this year and I couldn't put a damper on their Halloween festivities. So for the first time since I was a youngster myself I decided to dress up. Taking a cue from Carissa, I went with a witch costume. Mine was also of the "pretty" variety so as not to scare the little kids at school. It was sort of fun to dress up for a change.

All in all a pretty good Halloween season. I'm glad it's over and now I'm eagerly anticipating Christmas. Yes, I know that Thanksgiving is coming too but that's just a day to eat turkey and pass the time while we wait for the next big excitement, Christmas!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oh my goodness … I just did it. I made the reservations and ordered the tickets. We’re going to Disneyworld!!!

I am excited beyond words. I'm a certified Disney freak and would practically live at the parks if I could. Yet it doesn't exactly fit in with our family budget, you know what I mean?!? Well Mom to the rescue. She's letting us use her timeshare in Orlando. We'll be making a budget trip of it ... sharing meals when we can and not going out to the expensive character meals. I think the kids are even going to be asking for Disney dollars for Christmas. But even if we won't have a lot of extra money, I know we'll have fun just the same.

Now here's the thing ... the kids don't know. We haven't figured out how to tell them yet and want to make it something fun and exciting. Do you have any great ideas? I thought about wrapping up their park tickets for Christmas but I'm not sure I can wait that long. Not to mention I have an 11 year old who's at least as much of a Disney freak as I am - maybe more. No kidding. So he will figure it out very quickly, if he hasn't already. So I need something good and I need it now. And don't you dare let it slip to my kids -- so help me I will HURT you if you do! LOL

The best news of all - we'll be going for Carissa's 7th birthday. She will spend her special day in the Magic Kingdom getting Birthday Wishes from the characters and cast members. Should make a memorable one for her.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It happened to me ...

You know sometimes you have those theoretical chats with people asking "what would you do if you just found $100 (or $1000 or a million $) on the ground"? It's never really happened to me... until today.

Brian and I were shopping in Fred Meyers and were in the ice cream aisle getting a half gallon of Brian's favorite splurge when I noticed this ratty looking envelope on the ground. I pick it up and took a peek inside. The first thing I see is a small pile of bills ... the first few being $100 bills. Inside was a total of $340 cash. Wow, gee ... guess now it's happened to me.

We knew immediately that we wouldn't keep it so took it to the customer service desk to turn it into lost and found.

I'm really hoping someone comes to claim it. Written on the outside in crayon were the words "From G&G for Kaitlyns birthday". This was obviously money that someone was saving to buy gifts for their child.

Brian and I came home from the store and were able to have a nice chat with the kids over dinner about the scenario. Quite the real-life learning lesson there.

And now I can say that it's happened to me ... I've found the pile of money on the ground and I gave it back.

Friday, October 19, 2007

In the rhythm

We're slowly falling into the rhythm of school life here. Slowly getting used to getting up early each morning (even though I really want to sleep in!), getting to work and school (quite often almost late thanks to Ms. Slowpoke Carissa) and taking care of all the "other" activities that fill our lives.

School for the kids is going better. Chase has made a few friends and that has helped him acclimate a bit more. Tristan had a friend he knew before move over to that school and has a few other friends besides that one. Carissa is friends with a couple of the girls in her class too. So the social things are slowly working themselves out. The academic things seem to be going fairly well.

Carissa is the best reader in her grade. Not that it's a stretch there. There are only 9 kids in 1st grade and all my kids have always been significantly above the other readers of their age anyways. We read a lot here. She will be starting speech class next month, which I'm looking forward to. Her speech needs a sprucing up. She's got to work most on her handwriting, but she's a smart little cookie and doing well.

Tristan is excelling too. I think I might have to ask to have him moved up in spelling, as the regular 3rd grade words are way too easy and he's getting them all right each week. He's really enjoyed his moon studies and took some field trips already this year. He's got lots more to come, as his teacher really loves to do hands-on learning.

Chase has enjoyed the newsletter that his class is putting out. His first article was a review/report on the last Harry Potter book. It was very good without giving away too much information. This next newsletter he will have a word find and an article on the science habitat his class is putting together.

The school itself has really been a change. It's so small and everyone knows one another. There are a total of 70 kids in the school which means small class sizes all around. Carissa only has 15 in her class while the boys each have just above 20. The Parent-Teacher Committee is outstanding. They have a huge budget (about $70,000 for 70 students) so really make a huge difference in how the school is run. They pay for an extra teachers assistant for the school, outdoor school for both Tristan and Chase's classes, swimming lessons for Carissa's class, real art teachers, teachers allowances, etc. They also do this awesome program called "Breakfast Brain Food" based on studies that show kids who have a healthy snack at school have higher learning retention levels and lower disciplinary problems. Every child in the school gets a free healthy snack each and every day. What I'm most excited about though is the Spanish language program they're bringing to the school. Twice a week the kids will take Spanish lessons with a certified teacher. It's such a blessing to be able to have them involved in language at such an early age. They start those lessons next week and they're all very excited about them.

Beyond school we are still dealing with soccer. I have a feeling this may be her one and only year playing soccer. She is just way too girly for the likes of this sport. Today it was raining and when I mentioned that she had a soccer game she said "In the rain ... but I'll get WET!". LOL She has a great team and all but her heart just isn't in it. She would really like to take riding lessons again but we just can't afford them right now. Soccer was the "budget" choice and you see how well that went over! LOL I may try to get her back in some dance classes or something after soccer is over. Maybe that will appease her for now.

Tristan is absolutely LOVING the Tae Kwon Do lessons that he got for his birthday. He goes twice a week for 1 1/2 hours each time. It's been great for both his self-esteem and for getting him out and exercising even when the weather is bad. He's always so proud when he learns something new or does a great job at a task. He's got some seriously hard roundhouse kicks going. Just a word to the wise ... don't offer to let him practice his kicks on you. OUCH!

Chase has been going to theater classes at Oregon Childrens Theater every Saturday and he's having a great time. It's a bit of a drive, as we have to go into Portland for them, but he likes it. He's also looking forward to basketball season starting in a few months.

As for Brian and I, it's much the same. I'm working 4 mornings a week, helping out at the school and spending lots of time on keeping our Cub Scout pack running smoothly. Brian is working 10 hour nights and sleeping during the day. We enjoy the small amount of alone time that we now get since the kids are in school on his days off. Our lucky number 13 year of marriage is shaping up to be another great one. Boy, are we lucky to have one another.

All in all, life is pretty good. I couldn't ask for anything better.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Visit with Flat Meggie

One of my fellow ScrapAddict designers has a 1st grade daughter. They currently have a class project based on the book "Flat Stanley". Each child has made a flat version of themselves and are sending them out on a journey. Meggie started her journey in Floriday and has visited both Idaho and Colorado. She is now enjoying her time here in Oregon. I took her with my preschool class to Oregon Hill Farms where we got this great view of Mt. Hood.
In Florida they don't get to see pumpkins growing on the vine so I took a pic of Flat Meggie hanging out with some pumpkin flowers and growing pumpkins

and with a ripe pumpkin.

On the way out she took a break in this wheelbarrow full of gourds.

Meggie is on her way to Connecticut next to visit fall in it's full colors. Have a great adventure Meggie!!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Chase's bio-poem

It's always interesting when your kids write something about themselves. I find out things I didn't know and it makes me smile just reading it. Here's the bio-poem Chase wrote for open house:



Wishes to be an actor,

Dreams of being famous,

Wants to save the evironment,

Who wonders if science can answer everything,

Who fears for endangered animals,

Who is afraid of crabs,

Who likes rats,

Who believes in supernatural creatures,

Who loves basketball,
Who loves rocks,
Who loves school,
Who loves watermelon,

Who plans to help the poor,
Who plans to have a good life,
Who plans to write books,

Whose final destination is the beach.

Friday, October 05, 2007

New month, new projects

So the new October ScrapAddict kits are available so I thought I'd share some of the projects I did with these kits. I had a great time with them.

This is the Sweet Street Altered kit. I FINALLY made a SeaWorld album from our Mar. 2006 trip:

I also made this sign for Chase's door ... although I must admit that it's usually on the "Go Away" side and rarely on the "Welcome to Chase's room" side. *sigh*

And lastly I made this layout of Carissa and Kayli at Kayli's 6th birthday party.

This is the Walk the Plank Kit/OD:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bad Mommy!

I was editing photos tonight and came across something that shamed me to no end.

Tristan's birthday is in late August, the last bit of summer. I took tons of pictures of his party. It was an event ... bowling with his friends. 12 kids in all. Cupcakes. Presents. Chaos. I captured it all. Even remembered to do some posed shots of him on his 9th birthday.

Fast forward 2 weeks to Chase's birthday. Mid September. School has started. There's a soccer game. And the Sauerkraut festival. Chase has a slumber party with his 3 closest friend. I take one picture of him ... and a horrible one at that.

Ugh. I suck!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Stick an L on my forehead ...

because I'm officially a loser. Life has been so busy that I haven't taken the time to update my blog in weeks. So this is my catch-up post for you all.

We did change the kids school. They started a week and a half ago.

It's definately a change for us all. The frienship pool is smaller, since there are only 80 kids in all of the K-6 school. I think it's been a bit hard, especially for Chase, to make new friends at this school. Thankfully he still has his neighborhood friend Brenden and we've promised to try to have his friends over more often now that he isn't going to school with them. Tristan is a bit luckier, as he has one of our neighbors in his class. Plus he's already make friends with a boy who lives on the island. Good for him. Carissa is, of course, the social butterfly and has a new BFF, Gyllian. She seems to be doing well with that and is enjoying her new school.

Academically the changes have been quite big. Carissa's teacher does individualized reading levels with her kids and Carissa started in level 14 (out of 23). Most 1st graders start at level 1 so we were pleased to see her so high. She's a great reader though and she's proud of her reading level (she's already moved up to level 16). She also has her own caterpillar that just turned into a chrysalis. They're looking forward to letting them lose in the butterfly garden after they've transformed.

Tristan's teacher is just awesome. She has tons of field trips planned and has others coming to the school for demonstrations for the kids. He has been doing a moon journal nightly to study the phases of the moon. His spelling is still too easy but I'm hoping that he will move up to the next level or be given more challenging words.

Chase is always my problem child when it comes to the educational system. He doesn't tell me much about what's going on and his teacher is a bit hard to read. She has great ideas but I don't know how much of that has made it into the classroom. He is way advanced of his age group and I don't know whether she's had the time to test him for math advancements or not. I just really feel lost here so we'll see how things pan out. It is stressful for me ... I'm just worried about whether we did the right thing, whether he will fit in, whether he will be able to learn how to work hard at something instead of just having A's given to him. My migraines have been bad lately because of the stress and worry ... I'm hoping that will subside over time.

Aug. 31st was Tristan's 9th birthday. He had a bowling party and lots of fun with his friends. Sept. 15th was Chase's birthday (bad mommy forgot to take pictures at his birthday slumber party!!!). It was a busy day because it was soccer pictures, soccer game and the Sauerkraut Festival, our towns annual community celebration. Brian had to work it but called me to come watch the cabbage bowling competition between the Police Dept. and the Fire Dept. He did GREAT (a strike, a spare and 9 pins in his 3 rounds) and was definitely the top bowler of the Police Dept. They had a lot of fun even though they lost to the Fire Dept. by ONE PIN.

Since Belle left Brian has been wanting another pet. He's just an animal lover, I tell you. But this one is definitely ALL HIS, as I'm not particularly fond of this particular species.

This is Coral, Brian's new milk snake. She is very pretty and all but there's something about snakes that just sits wrong with me. Nonetheless, she graces a place in our front room now. The kids like her a lot and like to hold her, though none of them were really wanting to see her catch and eat the adorable little mouse that was her food this week.

Thank you to all who voted for me in the Scrapbook Warehouse "Queen of the Crop" contest. While I didn't win the popular vote (95 votes for me, 100 for another layout), I did win the judges vote and thus was named "Queen of the Crop". I came away with this awesome prize package:

My absolutely favorite piece is the Making Memories trimmer. That sucker sells for over $50 and I normally would never own it because of that. But I'm excited to get it out of it's box and play with it! In addition to that I got a CropADile, two carstock stacks, the entire line of My Minds Eye Bohemia papers and embellishments, two albums, and tons of other goodies. A nice little prize package. Best of all, it came in this adorable wooden trunk that I just can't wait to alter.

Soccer is in full swing - literally. See what I mean ...

That's Carissa (#30) and her teammate Aurora swinging their arms during a recent game. Can you tell that she's not really into it? She'd much rather talk and play with the other little girls. She did manage a goal the first game but only because the ball landed right in front of her and she just booted it into the goal. She doesn't like running after the ball and she hates when she gets accidently tripped or hit by the ball. I have a feeling that she won't be playing again next year, but it's cute to watch her anyways. Such a girly girl ...

So there you go. That's the update. Take care all.