Eli in a Buttermilk Bath - 5 Months


Why buttermilk? He has really sensitive skin with eczema, and the buttermilk soothes and smoothes the patches. I add lotion, and the combo keeps it at bay. : )

*Kate has blotchy patches everywhere - worse every day - any miracle cures out there? Diet tricks that help?


Apples to Apples - Football Players Review

I posted a query on Facebook a week or so ago asking if anyone had played Apples to Apples Kids or Apples to Apples Junior because I was debating which would be the better choice for the kids' reading levels. As it turned out, after the post, I didn't see Apples to Apples Kids on the shelves again. It was completely off the market in Bellingham. BUT it'd been replaced by Apples to Apples Family ... I snagged one right away! (as did Kevin on the very same day, so we had to return one! ; )

Apples to Apples Family is very cute and very fun. Collin and Marley totally got it and enjoyed it. Owen mostly got it, but he's not really reading yet so it was a bit of a stretch for him.

Never fear! Creative Collin - who may be a game inventor afterall - is here!

Collin brought out his football cards last night, handed me a stack, said, "Remember Apples to Apples? Here's your cards. Dad's the Judge. Get it?" Me: "Uh, no?!" Nice rules ...

Anyhow, it really was as simple as that! We each handed Kevin a football card, then he debated which was "the better player" and explained why he'd made his call. It was fun! The boys learned even a bit more about their cards, the players, the stats, the game, AND it was absolutely a version of Apples to Apples that Owen (and I, despite my general lack of football knowledge) could play! Even Kate can play a blind game of Apples to Apples - Football Players Review!


Christmas Hit: Beyblades

Top 10 Things I LOVE about Beyblades:

1. They are classic toys: TOPS!
2. Anyone can work them ... from my 2 1/2 year old daughter to my 80 year old grandmother.
3. You "battle" without weapons, blood, or injury.
4. It's ok to have more than one ~ inspires sharing with others and invitations to play!
5. No mess. And they are small (size of a clementine), so I don't have to rearrange or reorganize our playthings to create space for the Beyblades.
6. No annoying sound.
7. No crazy rules.
8. They spin long enough for my kids to run upstairs, jammie-up, brush teeth (too quickly), and race back down to beat the blade! In fact, you'd be surprised what you can do while they spin! The boys have created games of challenge, like how many times can you race around the house before the blade stops spinning? *It turns out that you can run around our "circle" A LOT. (50+) My kids were extremely tuckered out tonight!!
9. My kids cheer each other on ... but also talk good-natured smack. And it's ok because sometimes they win; sometimes they lose. Good lesson in humility and sportsmanship. (*Smack includes the rare opportunity for "appropriate" name calling!)
10. Beyblades were the perfect #1 gift this Christmas, and Santa didn't even bring them. The boys picked them out (at different times) and gifted them to each other!


Carousel Delight

Our second stop in Seattle was the carousel at Westlake Center. Watching my children's joy and hearing their laughter was the highlight of the day!! It's remarkable, really. I mean, the horses stay rooted and move up and down ... and yet the moment that your horse raises above another's = bliss! and then you lower and the other has a moment to shine. So simple and yet more of a thrill to my boys than any other ride they've ridden yet (admittedly, they've ridden very few!) Such simple, sincere pleasure!

Giddy Up, Let's Go! Jingle All the Way!

Visiting Santa

We traveled to Seattle last week for some holiday merriment! First stop Friday morning was Macy's downtown, where Santa has set up shop and is visiting with kids for a few hours a day in between his busy schedule! (Mrs. Claus is busy making cookies up north, and the elves are hard at work building toys and prepping the final list. He's such a good delegator! They do all the work, while he enjoys the children and experiences the magic of Christmas, 15 minutes at a time! ; )
The kids made their lists for Santa and couldn't wait to deliver them in person!
In the pic above, if you can't tell, Owen's mouth is wide open!
Kate stood on the outskirts and watched her brothers, needing to see that Santa really was ok. She loved watching him through the window, and she wanted to meet him, but she was still a bit anxious ... (But she was much more inclined to meet him this year than last year!) Once the boys gave him a hug, she was ready to approach.

She eventually warmed right up to him:

Nice to meet you, Santa! Good luck Christmas Eve! We'll be listening for your jingle bells!

Tree Farm Adventures

The day after Thanksgiving, we bundled up and headed to our tree farm to pick the tree! We searched high and low this year, even contemplating the many different styles, until we finally found our tree. (Went for a Noble Fir like always ; )
Owen's not with our tree, but this is the one he wanted! I was afraid the branches were too weak to hold our many (some heavy) ornaments, but it was a beauty!

Thanksgiving Morning Snow!

What a treat! Snow on Thanksgiving! And nowhere to go ~ so lots of time to play!!! Plus Eli's morning nap was during the best hours of morning sledding, so I got to sled too! Great fun!

Watch out Collin!!!


A Month of Thanks Wrap-Up

Wow! A month of thanks has flown by! The last few days, I have been thankful that I have been so wonderfully busy and happy that I haven't even had time to blog!

The past long weekend was one of the very BEST Thanksgiving weekends I can remember!

It's almost midnight, and my iPhoto is acting nutszo, so I'll share my thanks-sentiments and the pics from Thanksgiving with our family tonight and share the rest of the pics later. Stay on the edge of your seat because there's some good ones! (I'm biased though ... my kids rock!!)

THURSDAY: I am thankful that it snowed Thanksgiving morning. We were expecting family, and I had a list of chores to do before they arrived. But who can do chores when there's sledding to do?! So I didn't clean the toilets, and I didn't change all the sheets until later, and I didn't fuss around. I played in the snow with my kids!!! The result was that I had a fantastic morning and spent the afternoon in a home that looked exactly like it is - like four kids live and play there - and I was very happy with that! (We're pretty neat people anyway, so it's truly just my OCD nature that I had to suppress. The snow allowed for that, and it was delightful!)
(Above) Eli and Grandpa Sharing Stories .... while (Below) Grandma read stories with the older kids!
Seriously, I was jealous of Collin in this moment Thursday. Next year I'm not holding back. I'm loading up an olive per finger and enjoying them one-by-one too! I LOVE doing that!
Mmmm ... goodness. Mmmmm.
Clockwise: Kate, Grandma J, my brother Zac, my sister-in-law Carolyn, my new little niece Greta, my dad/Grandpa J, Collin, Owen
Again, playing with his food ... it's a hat! No, it's a roll! Nope, it's a hat. ; )

Kate was very thankful to be licking the spatula after Grandma whipped up the homemade cream to top the pumpkin pie! Kate is also a very good sharer:

Kate is wearing "the dress my Grandma made to me!"
Owen took nearly 80 photos on Kevin's iPhone. Wonder where he learned that? (Super cute!)
Baby Greta - 2 Weeks

FRIDAY: I am thankful for patience. We drove out to our Tree Farm Friday, and (despite the general lack of good trees due to some bug that turned them all brown - ugh) we picked out "the perfect Christmas Tree" for 2010! Once home, we pulled out the ka-zillion boxes of decorations and ornaments and started Project Decorate. The kids were so excited! They were pulling out ornaments and ripping the packing paper, tearing through the boxes. If I reminded them, they'd slow down, but the excitement was just bubbling over! I cringed as they pulled out the ornaments and decorated feet 1 to 3.5 of the tree (I did the top, and eventually rearranged a few decorations because the middle was seriously full!!). I pictured each ornament breaking, one by one. OH!!! But then I took a deep breath and kept smiling. I reminded myself to have patience, to bust in the box myself and rescue the ones that I really cared about, and to remember that they are just ornaments ... big deal. Telling the kids to stop wasn't even an option! Nothing compares to the joys the kids had as they took the ornaments out and examined each and every one in delight and discovery! I was truly so pleased by how many of them they remembered from past years (some they'd made, some bought, etc.) and the connections to stories and emotions they have already made with them. It's the kind of response I've been hoping for ... the reason I believe ornaments are so cool. If you listen, they tell stories of years past. (Which is sort of also why I don't want them all to break.) So, yes, I am thankful that my patience was excellent that night. We had a blast decorating the tree and laughing about past Christmas moments! *In the end, only one ornament was broken; i don't even remember which one or how. must not have been too important. so cool.

SATURDAY: I am thankful for good friends, tacky glue, good brew, and burn cream! We spent Saturday with one of our favorite families, crafting gifts for the kids to give for Christmas (you're gonna love them! and so simple!), brewing what became appropriately and awesomely labeled "Third Degree" beer (our first experience brewing), and nursing the dads' burnt hands while we watched Disney's new Jim Carey "Christmas Carol." I am thankful the dads' hands are ok (a few serious blisters, some missing layers of skin -- ouch!), thankful that I don't own that movie (I don't recommend it - not because it's scary like people said -- it's not scary -- but I don't recommend it because it's slow, not funny like you might expect from Carey, and clearly drawn with 3-D effects in mind, not for viewing in a living room), and thankful that most of the beer survived "The Big Spill" and is currently fermenting!

SUNDAY: I am thankful for the opportunity and good fortune to attend Sunday's Seahawk game vs. Kansas City Chiefs at Qwest Field! Wow! What an experience! It was LOUD! It was ENERGIZING! And we had awesome seats, from which we could see each and every play AND watch the ferries come in and out of the terminals in downtown Seattle. So cool!! The boys LOVED the game, followed the plays, and lived it up! Me too! I think we'll have to save up and try to make it an annual tradition. ; )

MONDAY: I am thankful for sleep. I need to get more of it.

TUESDAY/TODAY: I am thankful that I posted regularly for the past month! I feel so accomplished! It is amazing how little time it really takes when I just sit down each night and start typing. (Tonight was a little longer because I took a few nights off ... which just lends right into the argument that I should do a little each day!) I know I'll always treasure the time I spent tracking our many moments. *Thanks, Katie K! You're a swanky inspiration! ; )


My Family

Eli, Kate, Collin, Owen, Kevin, Me
Today I am most thankful for my family. I have a fantastic husband, who makes me laugh, refuses to hold my hand for longer than a few seconds, makes amazing meals, works hard for his family, enjoys his friends, and chooses his family over everything else. And together we have created four truly amazing children, each unique and wonderful, with whom we get to experience so much joy. I couldn't ask for more!!
*I took this pic before bed tonight. It is SO typical! With four kids, I do a LOT of laundry around here, and nearly every day, the kids are digging through the dryer for their favorites. So, I didn't plan it but I am not surprised to see that tonight each of our kids is in his or her favorite jammies!

-- Art by Owen 11.17.10 --

First Snowfall of the Season

I mentioned earlier that we got home late last Friday because we'd been in Seattle that evening. Well while we were there, our house was dumped on! Our neighbor Nick G built this snowman to welcome us home, and Kate was thrilled to wake up, put her hat and boots on, and find him out front in the morning:
Needless to say, jammies weren't cutting it in the brrrr, so we bundled up and went back out for more:
Snow Fight!!
By mid-morning, the snow was melting, but the kids hardly cared! Kate and Owen were out for hours, each trucking their sleds up the hill over and over and over:
They were not alone:Kate and Ava:

To allow them to enjoy every last moment, Daddy delivered breakfast sandwiches to our sledders:
At the end, Owen was practically surfing down the road:
Kate tried so hard to keep going, scooting her bum and inching along, but eventually the snow was no more:
Awesome morning!!!