Saturday, December 22, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007


Whew, we've had a busy month! As most everyone has, I'm sure. We're looking forward to a few days to just be together as a family with no deadlines or shopping lines. We hope you all are enjoying these last days before Christmas!

A few weeks ago Haley and I made our annual gingerbread house. We managed to not eat enough candy to still have some to put on the house, and miraculously the kids have pretty much left it alone on the counter. Although I did catch Jake climbing up a stool to reach it today...

The kids are SO very excited for Christmas and it's been lots of fun these past weeks to have them be my little "elves" to help with shopping and wrapping, baking and party hosting. I think Haley's almost as excited to give her presents as she is to see what Santa brings; Jake is just wildly excited in general from the festive atmosphere and (un)healthy doses of sugar.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Imagine you've run out of milk, and head out for a trip to the grocery store. You have a toddler and a preschooler with you, and it's winter in Grand Forks. First, you start the car so it won't be quite so frigid. Then you begin to bundle the kids - mittens, hat, fleece jacket, mittens again because the toddler pulled them off, winter coat, hat again because the toddler pulled it off, boots, mittens one last time. You pull on your Uggs and down jacket and carefully cross the icy cement-floor garage with the wiggly toddler. You tug hard on the car doors, which have half-frozen shut and finally get them open. You manage to get everyone buckled and head out on the roads. You find yourself stuck behind an old woman with a 2-wheel drive Buick, going 10 miles per hour on the snowy roads. Piles of snow 4 feet deep line the streets where the plows have come by, and the car heater is nowhere near to blowing warm air. It takes you 15 minutes to make the 7-minute drive to Target, where you once again put the hats and mittens on the kids and somehow tug and pull and carry everyone and the diaper bag inside. Ah, heaven! Target is the best! You take your time wandering the aisles, sipping a hot chocolate from Starbuck's while the kids munch on popcorn or a free cookie and play with all the toys. You greet the employees who know you by name and pretend like it's normal to spend this much time in a department store. Once the kids start getting cranky you decide you'd better get your groceries and head home. At last it's all purchased and re-loaded and you've managed to keep either child from falling on their head out of the cart. You start the car from inside the store (completely spoiled by it's auto-start feature), and begin to re-bundle the children. Then it's across the parking lot to the car - easier said than done. The cart is loaded down with two kids and the groceries, and you're trying to push it through 3 inches of snow while slipping around yourself. Finally back at home, the kids want to play in the snow while you unload the groceries, only to wind up crying from the negative-20 degree wind chill. You all hurry inside, change into warm clothes, and snuggle up under a blanket. Only then do you gaze out the window and think how beautiful and peaceful the snow-covered yard is...and did I forget to buy the milk?

Of Christmas Trees and "Nactivities"


I never thought I'd say this, but I'm tired of decorating Christmas trees! A few years ago Rob volunteered me to decorate the tree at the church, and I've done it for 3 years now. Last week the kids and I spent an afternoon at the church "fluffing" the branches and decorating it with angels and stars. Then over the next few days I spent about 6 hours total winding over 1,000 mini lights around the branches of our tree at home. Haley was SO very patient while waiting for me to finish it so we could hang the ornaments. Now it's 95% done, we just have to finish the ballerinas to complete our Nutcracker theme. My mom sketched the idea for these ornaments and Haley and I have had lots of fun making them. We also made a whole army of Hershey Kiss mice. Thank goodness nutcracker ornaments are easy to find because my crafting talents are being stretched here! But the tree is very sparkly and very, very bright, and the kids love it, so it's all worth it.


On Sunday our ward held it's second annual "Night of the Nativity", an evening with nativity displays, a live nativity outside in the front (with real animals and sub-zero temperatures), and lots of music, followed by the Christmas Devotional broadcast from Salt Lake. Rob was very involved in the music and gear set-up, and sang a 1/2-hour set of Christmas songs with our friend Mary. They sounded so great! Haley loved feeling a part of things, and was brave enough to sing "Here Comes Santa Claus" twice - because I missed it the first time. She's already talking about singing again at next year's "Nactivity" - her interpretation of the name of the event. Below: Rob and Haley singing together (sorry, not the best picture).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Much To Be Thankful For

We had such a great Thanksgiving weekend. It was wonderful to have Rob home for 4 days straight, and to get to spend so much time together. Sadly our Thanksgiving dinner guests had the stomach flu, so it was just the four of us for the day. When we found out they weren't coming, we threw the turkey in the oven and headed to the movie theater to see Disney's Enchantment - so much more fun than tidying the house! Jake was an angel and slept almost the whole time, while Haley and Rob and I laughed and laughed through the movie. Above: Haley helps Rob prep the turkey for the oven...resulting in lots of questions about turkey birds and turkey lunchmeat...

We then came home, enjoyed our dinner, and prepared for Shop-Till-You-Drop Friday. Rob got up at 2:45 a.m. in order to be one of the first people in line at Sam's Club, where he scored a big-screen LCD TV, as well as a few other hot items. By the time he got home, the kids and I had been up and were ready to go. We didn't see many other kids out shopping that morning - are ours the only kids that wake up at 5:45?!? Below: Haley poses with our table...note the lack of snow in the backyard.

Now the Christmas tree is up (no lights on yet, however), and we're looking forward to the Christmas season. We are thankful for all of our friends and family, and hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Haley and Jake with the obligatory olive-fingers; Jake drains his glass of apple cider.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Someone's In The Kitchen...

Haley and Jake decided to give their dad a little help in the kitchen tonight while he was cooking dinner. Haley's a great sous-chef, stirring and pouring and only occasionally dipping her finger in to taste.

Jake, on the other hand - he's not such a great helper. Below you can see his emotional progression as he was told "no, Jake, you can't have the full container of sour cream" and then "here you go, now you can have the empty container." This sweet boy can be quite feisty too!

Haley participated in her first Primary Program today at church. She was nervous and kept saying that she wouldn't go up, but we practiced the songs all week and she bravely went up when it was time. It helped a lot that she got to sit next to her good friend Audrey. The children were all so cute and there was such a sweet spirit. It's wonderful to watch her face her fears and (sniff) become such a big girl! We were so proud of her.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

From Head to Toe to Head to Toe to Head to Toe...

We have many books in our house - novels, sci-fi, classic literature, cookbooks, textbooks, gardening books...the list goes on and on. They're in the living room, kitchen, basement and bedrooms. So it's really no surprise that our kids love to read as much as we do. And we're glad for that - most of the time.

Jake is in LOVE with two books in particular right now - Eric Carle's "From Head to Toe", and Margaret Wise Brown's classic "Goodnight Moon." He gets so excited when he heads over to the bookshelf, beating his chest and saying "ooh, ooh, ooh" like a gorilla. Rob is much more patient than I and will read them to him over and over. One day after reading the "gorilla book" to Jake for the umpteenth time, I had a stroke of genius and asked Haley to read it to him. Big sisters are the best!

More Halloween Fun

Halloween seemed very drawn-out this year! Here are pictures from various festivities:
Haley's preschool had a costume parade and the kids sang a few songs. The kids were all too cute! I love that they're not yet embarrassed of mom and dad and wave excitedly when they see us.

After the preschool parade we went to UND so Rob could show the kids off in his classes. I refused to be in costume, but Haley and Jake made up for it. Jake read and acted out his favorite book, Eric Carle's "From Head to Toe", and Haley sang them a Halloween song - in front of 200 students! We were very impressed with their stage presence.
We decided to put Jake to sleep before carving pumpkins - my patience can only go so far. Haley, Rob and I had such a good time designing our Jack-O-Lanterns and stayed up a while afterward in the dark sipping on hot chocolate and talking.

We attended a really fun party on Halloween night - fun food, fun games, and trick-or-treating. We could not keep up with Haley as she ran door-to-door! The kids were intent on the candy, but Haley managed to play Wrap the Mummy, and we cheered Rob on as he - successfully - bobbed for apples.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pick a Pumpkin

One afternoon last week we picked Rob up early from the school and headed out to our favorite pumpkin patch. The weather was gorgeous, which was a nice change from years past. Haley and Jake had so much fun exploring and were fearless in the corn maze, if not in the Haunted Forest.

This is the difference between these two - Haley is wary of the "bones" on the ground; Jake runs over and picks them up.

It's great to have a big imagination, as Haley does - most of the time. We had to keep reminding her that it was all pretend.

I think we did quite a few circles and found more than one dead end. But eventually we found our way out of the corn maze.

Something about those bright orange spheres is magnetic to kids, isn't it? Jake has been saying a version of "pumpkin" for months now.

We ran into some friends from church and joined them on a hay ride through the pumpkin fields. Jake was in heaven riding behind the big tractor, narrating the whole ride with "vroom, vroom!"

Friday, October 26, 2007


Wednesday evening we donned our costumes for the ward's annual Trunk-or-Treat. The kids had fun playing a few carnival games before heading outside to gather their candy. Everyone thought we had spent big bucks on our costumes, but in reality most of them were cobbled together from things around the house. Is it strange that we have that many dress-up items laying around?!? Also, several people told me, "your husband is such a good sport to dress up!" I quickly replied that I am the good sport, as I don't usually go for major costumes.
Haley's excited to get to wear her costume again for her preschool's Halloween party and parade, and again on Halloween day. It looks like we're getting good use out of that Disneyland-priced dress!
Jake surprised us by keeping his costume on most of the night. So charming, indeed!
In case it's not obvious, Haley is Cinderella, Jake is Prince Charming, Rob is the Duke (who tries the shoes on all the maidens), and I am the Fairy Godmother (not Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter, as many guessed...)

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Jake has hit the phase where his vocabulary is expanding like crazy, and he says new words every day. It's so fun to watch him process the words he hears and try to say them. Many are only understood by Haley or I, such as "gnk" for "drink", but progress is being made in the communication department! Unfortunately, one word that Jake knows very well and pronounces clearly is "no." When he gets tired and cranky, that's the only word he seems to be able to remember, and the response to everything is "NO!"

Jake, are you tired? No!
Jake, do you need a nap? No!
Jake, are you being a stinker cranky pants? No!
Jake, do you want to stay up all night and eat candy? No!

I'm not too proud to say that sometimes Haley and I goad him on a bit, just to get a giggle or two. But his little frowny face and emphatic "no"s are so tempting!


Rob got home today from a conference in Spokane, and we all spent an hour working on our costumes for the ward's Trunk-Or-Treat this Wednesday. We're excited to go as Cinderella's entourage - watch for pictures! Haley had fun digging through her dress-up drawer and found this witch costume she wore a few years ago. Do most witches have ringlets?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Drip, Drip, Drip

Unlike many of our home improvement projects, Project Install New Tub is not going so smoothly. Rob is attempting round two of the drain kit as I write this, as the first one kept dripping and making quite a mess downstairs. Even worse is that to access the problem area he had to take everything out of the hall closet and cut a hole in the back of the closet...All of our table linens, games, puzzles, extra toilet paper and boxes of tissues are now scattered around the house. The kids have had so much fun playing with it all today and it looks like a tornado went through the house!

However, the good news is that the tile is all in and grouted and caulked, and the new shower curtain I ordered should be here this week. It will be so nice when the bathroom is all put back together!

Here's Haley helping Rob do the final prep on the tile before grouting.


Haley continually amazes us with her generous and thoughtful nature. This week while running errands she noticed a homeless man sitting on the curb near Sam's Club. She said, "We need to bring him some lunch!" and reminded me about 50 times while we were in the store. In Wal-Mart she picked out a huge sub sandwich, 3 apples, and a bottle of water. She was very conscious of the fact that he didn't have anywhere to cook food and needed prepared items. Sadly, he was gone by the time we got back out there and we spent 20 minutes driving around town looking for someone else to give it to, with no luck.

Then today she made us all go through our closets and gather things to give to "Charity." At one point she asked Rob if he was getting rid of any suits, and when he told her no, he still used those, she said, 'Well, other people might need them more." So we filled bag after bag with clothes, shoes, and stuffed animals, and off they went to the local thrift shop. Hopefully she'll still feel this generous as a teenager when expected to share the car with Jake...

Jake decided to play dress-up one day and this is what he came up with - interesting fashion sense, but not exactly climate-appropriate!