Friday, December 30, 2011

All By Myself

We have this routine. Each kiddo gets his or her own color drinking cup each day. They use it all day, and keep the cups lined up on the counter so they can reach them when they need a drink.

Laura has obviously been watching this for a while.

Yesterday, she kept knocking everything off the counter near the drink cups...including a coffee mug. Thankfully, it didn't break!

It finally dawned on Jamie and me that she was trying to get her own drink like the other kids.

So, we put her cup really close to the edge, and she's been walking to the kitchen counter all day to get her own drink! I never thought I'd be this excited to see one of my kids getting their own drink!

OK. Now what do I do with it? We have lots of puddles on the floor since she's not putting it back on the counter, but we don't mind! We love seeing each new little bit of progress...all at her own pace.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Memories 2011

Festivities started on Friday before Christmas.

Jamie was finally home...after being gone most of the past 3 months at his new job location.

We are all so happy that we don't have to say goodbye anymore as he heads hours away to his new job. The next time he leaves, we'll be heading out with him.

So, Friday night was pizza and movie night. We watched The Nativity, with Jamie's finger on the FF button for the "scary" parts.

This is where I found Laura that same day. I think she was trying to figure out a way to enter the "forbidden closet" until Christmas is done.

Christmas Eve bubble bath! Laura thought Jenna was so funny blowing bubbles!

We open our presents on Christmas Eve morning, and the kids stay in their jammies all day. They couldn't come downstairs, though, until we called them. Goodness knows, we need a cup of coffee before the chaos begins! So, this is what we found waiting at the top of the stairs! (FYI...the gate is so Laura doesn't fall down the stairs...not to put our children in jail...really).

Our annual Christmas morning, Santa hat picture.

So nice to have all of our children home this year.

Crazy fun, Daddy!

Jenna's first Christmas. She just soaked it all in, loving every minute!

Daddy helped Laura open her new, big girl booster seat. No more baby car seats for her!

The rest of the day was just for relaxing. Jenna read her babies a story while they slept in their new bunk beds.

Amarin played his new Madagascar DS game.

Charlie tried figuring out his St*r W*rs lego set.

And we all tried our oh-so-cool dancing skills on the Wii.

On to the morning of the 25th. Santa puts surprises in their stockings.

Hey! Santa ate our treats!

Char tried squeezing his head into a new hat from Grandma and Papa.

Hugs for another grandma.

Off came the Christmas dress, and on went the ballerina clothes.

Cousins and uncles...

and more peek-a-boo and tickles for baby cousins.

It was indeed a very, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

When I grow up...

I love asking the kids this question every once in a while.

I usually know their answers, but once in a while, they surprise me.

Jacob: Right now, he wants to be a foreign ambassador. Previously, he has shown an avid interest in air conditioners (at age 2 he would skip out on beach play and head for the hotel's ac units), vacuum cleaners (age 2+, he wanted to see everyone's vacuum when we visited homes), and the Titanic (age 3+, once told an artist that he had the wrong number of life boats on his model). He has wanted to be an archeologist, paleontologist, inventor, and forest ranger. He's currently reading a book on how to earn money with your own business. Hmmm...

Amarin: From the time we met him, he has been enthralled with airplanes. "Klungbin" was one of our first Thai words that he taught us! He wanted to fly airplanes, especially with the Blue Ang*ls. He has since decided that he still wants to fly a plane when he gets older, but his own little plane, just for fun. He really wants to be a "fixer" and builder of robots now.

Laura: Well, she has decided to keep on with her cuteness, and remain with mommy and daddy so we don't get lonely in our old age!

Charlie: Mr. Dynamo wants to fly passenger planes and take people on vacation. Yeah...that would literally be a "trip" with this kiddo! Please keep your seatbelts securely fastened throughout the entire flight!

Jenna: Well, we can always shoot for the stars...even the one on top of the Christmas tree. Yep, Miss Jenna wishes to be a Christmas tree when she grows up. We tried to ask her if maybe her dramatic self would like to be a singer or dancer. No way. She is going to be a Christmas tree.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gettin' Ready for the Miracle

We're about done winding down the activities leading up to Christmas, and our move.

Such mixed emotions right now. Excited to be looking forward to an adventure, but realizing more and more what we're leaving behind.

Last Thursday night, Jacob had an Advent service band performance. He really does love playing the tuba...or in this case...the sousaphone.

The very next morning, bright and early, he had to be back to play another concert for the school kids.

Then came his piano solo...Battle of the Heroes, for you St*r W*rs fans. Boy, his little fingers were just a flyin'!

Big breath...

Then on Sunday evening, after four months of Saturday practices (which the boys LOVE), the kids put on a musical called Gettin' Ready for the Miracle. They all did an amazing job and it was so much fun to watch.

Amarin played the little son of a shepherd. He gave baby Jesus his favorite possession...his blanket.

Jacob played a "wise guy," and also sang his first solo. Since he refused to ever sing for any of was a special treat to hear him.

Charlie was able to perform, too, with the younger kids' choir. The favorite? Go Tell It On the Mountain, of course! No one can listen to that song without moving just a little!

After the performances, everyone went to the fellowship hall for treats.

And this is Pastor Joel, the Associate Pastor and music director. We found out that he used to work in a church where we grew up and knew some of our friends, too. He and his wife do an amazing job with the kids, and all the music ministries at the church. We will definitely miss this!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happenings Here

Where does the time go? We're already 1/2 way through December, which means Christmas, 2012, and our move is upon us. But we're still trying to keep a sense of normalcy...whatever that looks like. So, I'm posting this to remind myself of what we've been doing in the midst of paperwork, house hunting, list making, Christmas prepping, purging, reorganizing...yeah. I think the Carribean Islands are calling my name. Cayman Islands, anyone?

Homeschool. We're plugging away just fine, though this year is probably the most unorganized I've ever felt. I wonder why? But as you can see, Charlie is doing well in accounting, so I guess I can't complain.

Amarin's Thai lessons are finished as we wind down on our committments. His teacher was so sweet. And, no, she doesn't always dress like this. It's part of her job. Isn't it beautiful?
Theater...yours truly.

And we're learning fashion. Girls are so much fun to dress!

Char was sooo excited yesterday to get his new math books in the mail which now include tests! He finished kindergarten math in 1/2 year, and is on to grade one. He asked last night to take his first test. Oh, if only that enthusiasm would not wane.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Laura's Field Trip

Laura literally woke up giggling and clapping this morning. I think she may have realized that today was her school field trip to the largest Christmas store in the world!

Jacob, Amarin, and I were waiting at the store when she arrived with her friends and teachers. Her teachers said that she was jumping up and down on the bus, and smiling.

The girl knows a fun shopping excursion when she sees one!

First stop...a visit with Santa.

Here she is with one of her best friends. They were waiting in line to see Santa.

Sorry about the just don't stand still!

Laura didn't seem to want to get too close to Santa today.

But she was happy with the ornament he gave her.

Mr. "In the Know" was a good sport and saw Santa, too.

Amarin was quick to tell Santa how much he wanted another Star Wars guy.

What brought Laura so much joy? Lunch!

We had a lot of fun, especially knowing that this is probably our last trip to this amazing place for a while. Move date: 3.5 weeks and counting.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Zambia & India

Remember these packages? They were Christmas boxes for Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse.

We just received an email sharing that our boxes are headed to Zambia and India!

How fun to be sharing Christmas with kids in Africa and Asia!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Final Santa Photo?

I finally have one.

A photo of all my children with Santa...and no one is screaming.

Poor Char. He has always had a horrible, horrible fear of Santa...and the Easter Bunny...Disn*y characters...R*nald McD*nald...whoever. If he even thinks a character might be in the building, he's on the look-out and in panic mode.

But something happened today, and he decided last minute to "be brave" and get close for a picture. He even fist-bumped Santa.

And Jacob. Well, Jacob decided last minute, too, to join the photo. Because he's "in the know" now.

Laura and Amarin? Well, they were cool as cucumbers about the whole thing.

Jenna had to be reminded several times to wait her turn in line because she was so crazy excited to talk to Santa and sit on his lap. She just wanted to bypass the babies in line to get to the jolly 'ole guy!

I'm thinking this may be my last Santa photo with all the kids. Or maybe not.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fa la la la la....

Disclaimer for my kids' may not want to read this one until after Christmas!

Hint, hint!

The Christmas music was playing (loudly per Daddy), and we got to work making gifts for teachers, bus drivers, and our mail lady. The big boys are in charge of this task...'cause flour and other fly-away ingredients are involved. I'd rather it look snowy outside rather than inside!

Amarin couldn't wait to start, and was actually trying to convince Jacob to "spend nice time with Daddy on the computer" and he would do all the "work." Such a sweet brother.

Add a few more ingredients before big brother catches on to his scheme.

Ha! He caught on and joined in on the festivities.

Preparing the final product...oatmeal cookies in a jar. This was the first time we've ever made these, and they turned out so pretty! I just love homemade presents, especially something that can be easily used.

Another activity the kids enjoy is opening the doors to our Advent calendar. Behind each door is a magnetic character from the Christmas story.

And this year, I'm hiding a character from our unbreakable manger scene around the per day. They have fun trying to find them first!

And, as tradition, we ended last night with The Polar Express. We just love the movie. And how fun to have our whole family at home this year to watch it. Jenna, of course, could not sit still during the musical parts. The girl just has to wiggle and sway!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's Their Tree

Tree day!

No, Amarin, the skirt belongs on the tree...not you!

Jacob, ya gotta start thinkin' outside the box, buddy.

My little helpers. It seems like Jenna has been here so long, I almost forget that this is her first Christmas.

Sorting through all the Santa hats.

One of the best parts is looking through all of the ornaments and memories they hold.

Gazing at the tree. If only she was content in that, rather than picking off ornaments!

How many ornaments can kids fit into one tiny area of the tree?

Their finished tree...they sorted and assembled the branches, tested the lights (how many strings did we throw out this year?), and hung the ornaments. We finished the night by watching Santa Paws...sweet movie...sweet memories.