Friday, December 31, 2010

The Santa Sign

We've had this Santa sign forever... and I mean forever. We had one before Carissa was born and replaced it with this sign in 2001 after she was born. Each year the kids put it up just outside our door before Christmas so Santa knows exactly where they live.

I have pictures of them putting it up from when they were really little... when Carissa was so tiny she fit UNDER the sign itself. While I don't have those scanned into my computer, I do have this comparison picture from just 2 years ago. Look how much they've grown and change in just those two years...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pajammie Jam

As a child we never celebrated much on Christmas Eve, but we always got one present. It's a something that my parents did when I was a child and that I've carried over with my children. Every Christmas Eve we got to open new pajamas, which we wore that night. This year I found the MOST ADORABLE Grinch shirts (and coordinating pajama pants) for the boys to wear and a cute Christmas nightgown for Carissa (who is all about the nightgowns right now!).
Don't they all look so happy and excited for Christmas?!? Well, they are. This second picture captures it a little better though.

My friend Catherine ( is the mother of 5 and her kids like to make funny faces and motions in their photos. I always thought those photos showed a little more the true side of her kids and I've been trying to be more free with that when the kids want to mess around. Well, they were in entirely the right mood for that this night. I guess Christmas Eve brings out the crazy in us all. LOL


To help get in the Christmas spirit we let the kids open their presents to one another on the days leading up to Christmas. On the 22nd they open on gift,

(Chase got a hatchet from Tristan, Carissa got a Webkinz horse from Tristan and Tristan got a dragon Megabloks from Chase)
on the 23rd they open another.

(Chase got a vibrating back massager from Carissa, Tristan got a fedora from Carissa and Carissa got Little Pet Shop puzzle and figure from Chase.)

They open their pajamas on the 24th (watch for that post next!) and then we do the big day on the 25th (where I take almost no pictures and just enjoy the day).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Well... maybe this should be titled "reindeerstache", but I love the moosetache book so that's the title I went with. Anyways, on with the story.
For Christmas we always do a little gift exchange and party amongst the teachers at the preschool. The craftiest and most creative lady is Teacher Tamera, who always puts so much thought into her gifts. This year her theme was Santa and his reindeer. There was a Santa bag in the package with some yummy goodies in it and a Santa sack that was a wrapped gift. Santa's reindeer, however, were made of root beer bottles.
In our house only two people like root beer... Brian and Tristan. And Tristan LOVED that his root beer had reindeer antlers. He started using the antlers as a moustache, then Dad started doing it too. In the end we ended up with these two adorable moustached men cheesing it up for the camera. :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Great Wolf

Now that the kids are getting older and needing fewer things for Christmas, we've decided that our big family gift each Christmas will be time away together. Last year we had the ultimate time away - Christmas in Disneyworld! This year we had to go a lot smaller so in early November the family went to Great Wolf Lodge.

This was our first trip to the lodge and we had a great time. The room was great and had enough room for our family, which is a struggle sometimes with a family of 5. As soon as we arrived we checked in then went to play in the water!

First up were the water slides! We went on the two big ones first - Howlin' Tornado and River Canyon Run. These were both multi-rider slides, so 2 or 3 of us sat together on a raft for the ride. Both were fun, but the Howlin' Tornado was pretty awesome, swirling you around a huge funnel for a while. We rode each big slide about 6 or 7 times during our stay.

We tried the medium water slides next. None of us were too impressed and I don't think we rode them again.

Then it was time for the kids to hit the play areas. They really enjoyed these lily pads. Carissa had the advantage of short stature and less weight so she got across most of the time. The boys struggled more, since they had to crouch under the rope and still try to retain their balance. They sure had fun trying it and went on this about 10 times during our stay.

That was attached to a play pool where you could swim, play basketball and climb on floating animals.

We took the kids nextdoor to the wave pool, where they swam around and jumped in the waves. Brian and I joined in and had fun too.

Up next was the Fort. The kids walked all around this thing, shooting spraying water at one another and waiting in line for the slides.
I did eventually tempt them over to the front so I could get some pictures of them in front of the Fort. They stood there waiting expectantly, knowing that sooner or later that huge barrel on top was going to fill with water and dump on them.
It didn't take too long before that happened!
They got drenched but so did I! The camera was WET! LOL Good thing I brought my old Sony camera and not my good Nikon.
We played in the water park for a few hours and then went up to our room to change. The kids really wanted to play the MagiQuest game they have there, this game they have with Magic Wands and quests and lots of running around the hotel. I was prewarned that EVERYONE is playing the game and that our kids are going to want to do it too. Thankfully I came prepared, but I still wasn't pleased with the $70 we spent on wands and the game. Sheesh! Thankfully the kids brought their own money, so we didn't shell our much. I will say that the kids got the most out of their money and played this game for hours on end while Brian and I walked around the lodge, sat and read books, had a hot cocoa and just relaxed. (I love that Chase has a cell phone now so I didn't have to worry about losing them!) See the wands the kids are holding and the brown compass hanging from Chase's beltloops. Those are their MagiQuest items.
We eventually went back to the waterpark that evening for another hour or two, though Brian and I were both disappointed in the lack of "hot" in the "hot" tub. Brian and I picked up dinner at a pizza joint nearby and grabbed some donuts for breakfast. Then we spent the rest of our evening vegging and relaxing while the kids played MagiQuest until it closed at 10pm.
The next morning we were up and ready to swim again. We spent another few hours there, hitting our favorites one last time and having a family game of "fish" basketball (the "horse" basketball game, only renamed in honor of the conditions). We showered up and headed out, taking this last photo on our way out the door. We had a good time at Great Wolf, though I can't imagine spending more than one night there at a time, unless we had some good friends come with us to hang out with... ;)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Photography by Annette: Christmas photos

My newest venture... photography. Click on the link below to see the newest blog posting on my photography blog. :)

Photography by Annette: Christmas photos: "This month I took photos for local preschoolers to give their parents as Christmas gifts. I went with red accent pieces to leave in color an..."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DO NOT LOOK IF YOUR WORK WITH ME (Melinda, this means you!)

I finally finished up the little crafts that I'm giving to my co-workers at the preschool. They were easy and pretty fun to make. Made me realize that I need WAYYYYYY more glitter than I currently have. LOL But I made do with what I have and my house has a nice coating of glitter too. ;)
The "Noel" template came from the Elle's Studio's blog. The snowflakes are old IKEA ornaments that we've had for many years, which happened to be hanging on my tree this year.

Friday, December 10, 2010

They're getting older...

... but they were all good sports when it came to seeing Santa. Carissa and Tristan were excited, Chase not so much. But he stuck it out so I could get a photo for my "photos with Santa" pictures that I display every Christmas.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

O Christmas Tree...

I love Christmastime and the symbol of Christmas, for me, is the Christmas tree. Every year our family goes out to one of the local Christmas tree farms to pick and cut down a tree. This year we visited a new place right in town that had noble firs for a fabulous price. Many of the trees were huge and the rest were pretty small. We opted on the big size (I always do! LOL) and walked away with this huge tree.

Now, given that Brian is 6'4", I've got to estimate that the tree is about 10' high. But it was big and beautiful and that's all that mattered. Brian and the boys carried the tree to the van, where we tied it on top and brought it home.

When we got it home we realized that it was, as you might have guessed, too big. We have vaulted ceilings so we could have put it in the middle of the room and been fine, but I wanted it in this corner where the ceilings are the lowest. So out came the trusty handsaw. We chopped off several feet at the top, where it was tall and gangly with hardly any branches. And we chopped off the first level of branches at the base of the tree too. We had to take a second cut of the top, as the angel still wouldn't fit on, but we finally got it cut down to just the right size.

We let it dry for a day or two and then the kids got to decorating...

And here's the kiddos with their finished product:
All in all, a pretty fabulous tree and one that will happily grace our front room for the month of December.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Giving Thanks & Christmas with the Cousins

This Thanksgiving we were lucky enough to have most of our family join us. My Mom, Dad, Grandma, brother, sister-in-law and nephews all came to visit and we hosted them all for dinner. We narrowly averted disaster when my oven quit working with the turkey inside. Thank goodness for neighbors who let me use their oven to cook the huge turkey. But in the end we were able to enjoy a tasty meal.

My brother is in the Navy and is leaving this week for Florida, where he'll be stationed for 4 months of training before heading to his new base in Whidbey Island, Washington. He'll only be in Whidbey for a few weeks before he's deployed, so Thanksgiving is likely the last time we'll see him for the next year or so. :(

We made the most of the visit though and celebrated Christmas along with Thanksgiving. The kids all exchanged presents and played with their new goodies while we at nanimo bars and spritzer cookies. It was a great day and a reminder of why I will miss my brother and his family so much when he's gone.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Court of Honor

November 7 was the big day - Chase's Eagle Scout Court of Honor. This is a day that he's been anticipating for years, ever since he was a little 7 year old Cub Scout. And now the day was finally here.

Chase worked really hard on the program he chose for his Court of Honor. It began, as do all Court of Honors, with the lighting on the candles that signify the points in the Boy Scout Oath and Law. Then came the lighting of the trail to eagle, signified by the "Eagle Mountain" display. Chase chose one boy at each rank from his troop and asked them to signify that rank by lighting the candle and reciting a blurb. As you can see, his brother was asked to be here as were Ty and Cameron, the two boys to Chase's left who were in my original Cub Scout den when they all first started and who have been on this road with Chase for the entire journey.

Chase lit the Eagle candle and did his blurb. As you can see, we forgot a candle holder so we improvised - play dough works just as well. LOL

One of his adult leaders recited "The Call of the Eagle" and then Chase took his Eagle Scout Oath.

One of his scout leaders is this gentleman, who recited "100 scouts" for the group. Here is the original text of that, though Mr. Radke made some wonderful additions to the list.

Of any one hundred boys who become Scouts, it must be confessed that thirty will
drop out in their first year. Perhaps this may be regarded as a failure, but later in life, all of these will remember that they had been in Scouting and will speak well of the program.

Of the one hundred, only rarely will one ever appear before a juvenile court judge.

Twelve of the one hundred will be from families that belong to no church.

Through Scouting, these twelve and many of their families will be brought into contact with a church and will continue to be active all their lives.

Six of the one hundred will become pastors.

Each of the one hundred will learn something from Scouting, and all will develop hobbies that will add interest throughout the rest of their lives.

Approximately one-half will serve in the military, and in varying degrees, profit from their Scout training.

At least one will use it to save another person's life, and many may credit it for saving their own.

Two of the one hundred will reach Eagle rank, and at least one will later say that he valued his Eagle above his college degree.

Many will find their future vocation through merit badge work and Scouting contacts.

Seventeen of the one hundred boys will become adult leaders and will give leadership to thousands of additional boys.

One in four boys in America will become Scouts, but it is interesting to know that of the leaders of this nation in business, religion and politics, three out of four were Scouts.

This story will never end. Like the 'Golden Pebble' of service dropped into the human sea, it will continue to radiate in ever-widening circles, influencing the characters of men through unending time."

What does the Eagle badge represent? It means that a Scout set a
goal and worked to achieve that goal. The Eagle Scout badge stands for strength
of character. The Eagle Scout badge is a symbol of what a boy has done but, more
important, it also represents what the boy will be in the future as he grows
into manhood.

Next up was the big moment - the pinning of the Eagle Scout medal. I was given the privledge of pinning it on him and I felt such a moment of pride and awe at how far he'd come.

Up next was a poem called "It's Only A Pin." I won't share it all, but will share this first line that really summed up the moment for Brian and I...

Two fond parents watch their boy where he stands
Apart from his comrades tonight,
As they place on his camp-battered tunic, a badge...
An Eagle, the emblem of right.

Chase now presented me with my Mothers Pin.

Then Brian presented Chase with his Eagle Scout neckerchief.

And Chase presented Brian with his Fathers Pin.

Chase recited "Voice of the Eagle". He was rather fond of all the Eagle scout poems that he found and included quite a few in his program, though I think they were well-placed and very meaningful.

Now, as a surprise to Chase, we presented him with this flag, flown over our nations capital in honor of his Eagle Scout. We asked a few of the older scouts to present and fold the flag for him and it now sits in a flag box in his room.

And the surpises weren't over. Chase called his family up and presented all the women in our family with a red rose.
I was given seven, one for each rank of Boy Scouts that he earned on his way to Eagle. Aren't they beautiful!
That was the finale of his Court of Honor. It went really well and we now hunkered down to enjoy the two big, beautiful (and tasty) cakes. There were so many people there (around 120 or so) that we finished off both cakes and several jugs of juice. We milled around, speaking to all the guests, which included family, friends, old Cub Scout leaders and Senator Betsy Johnson.
While I'm glad the Court of Honor is over, I also think that it went wonderfully and will be a moment that Chase will be able to remember forever. He is so proud of himself and looks forward to many more years as a Boy Scout.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Advent 2010

This year I decided to make another advent calendar. What I learned from last years advent calendar craft was that using a plastic background sure doesn't hold up over time. The paper doesn't like to stick to the plastic base, depsite the prep work I did on it. This years calendar is MDF and is made to last! I glued each and every piece solidly and coated it all in modge podge. Here's a peek at our new advent, which the kids are already happily opening every day this month. :)

Oh, and this year I added a little surprise - every few days there will be a tag in the box that gives them a task for the day. These are things like "make Christmas cookies" and "watch a Christmas movie". Today's task was all for me - taking Christmas photos! They weren't too excited by that one but the pics came out great. Look for them on your Christmas card this year. :)