Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Moving Forward into 2016

This week has been a week of closing chapters and saying goodbyes. I'll begin with the goodbyes.

My husband and I were able to help send off a wonderful family of 11 (!!!) that we have gotten to know over the past 8 years. They have certainly been an example to me with their faithfulness, kindness, and generosity. Their move was bittersweet. Of course we were sad to see them go, but we are so happy that they have received an answer to their prayers and will begin a new chapter of their lives. Thank goodness for modern technology allowing us to stay connected.

The rest of the week was mostly uneventful for us. It has been rather wet outside, though the weather has been warm. I am hoping that over the weekend, the sun will be shining and I will have a chance to rake up the leaves in our backyard.

The children had some changes this week that will continue to take place through  the new year. One of the biggest changes will be to this guy here. He will finally be moving out of the nursery at church and into the larger primary with the "big kids".


Our church moves the children up to the next class at the beginning of each year and it is done by the year you were born. Because George is a January baby, he did not get to move up to the primary last year and instead had to remain in the nursery. He is one of the biggest kids in there, but I know he has enjoyed every minute of it. He was asked to bring a snack for their last Sunday together and he wanted to bring homemade peanut butter cookies.

I know that the transition from nursery to primary may come with an adjustment period for him, or he may surprise us and dive right in. I do know for certain that his new teachers are wonderful women. I look forward to hearing about all of the fun he will be having in his big kid Sunday school class.

This not-so-little girl will also be moving up to the 6-year-old class. It is not as big of a transition as what George has, but she will be getting a new teacher and the children in her class may change some. Currently, they have combined the 5 and 6 year olds, but they may change this and the classmates she knows could move up to the 7 year old class and may no longer be with her. We'll just have to see.



This baby boy here does not get a major change in his life until the end of January when he turns 18 months old and joins the nursery at church. I am anxious to see how that will turn out. When Bridget was that age, she screamed every Sunday for what seemed like months every time I attempted to leave her in there. George on the other hand walked right in and didn't look back. I am hoping that Liam will do the same.



I also have a few changes of my own that will be taking place in the new year. I have goals that I have set for myself. Many of them will help me when my life will change drastically in mid-January when my husband's busy season begins and I will be doing this parenting thing primarily on my own. Last year things ran so smoothly as I had the children on an excellent bedtime schedule that made the rest of their day easy for me. After my husband's busy season ended, the routine eventually stopped being followed. This year, my goal is to keep it going. 

My biggest goal, however, has to do with making goals. I will not necessarily be starting all of my goals on January 1st. I plan to implement them gradually so that I don't get burned out trying to stay on top of things. I also plan to list my goals here soon so that hopefully I can be more accountable for them. 

I am certainly ready for a fresh new beginning.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas 2015

I am finally getting around to posting pictures from Christmas. I've taken a short break from blogging during the holidays but wanted to get this posted before I forget the details.

On Christmas Eve, my husband, Bridget, and George made peanut butter cookies for Santa. They also got to hold "Elfie" and say goodbye, as he would not need his magic to fly back to the North Pole. We put him right next to the cookies and milk so that Santa would not forget him.


 Since the children were all in a good mood, I tried to get a few pictures of them in front of the Christmas tree. They were all very excited about Santa coming that night. I think it shows in the pictures.



I love this picture of Liam. It captures his sweet and happy spirit. He was very excited too, though he did not know why.


After the children finally went to bed and fell asleep (that is really the hard part), Santa arrived and delivered their presents. Santa and I had a talk recently about Christmas gifts and we agreed that Christmas should be practical and simple from now on. He was please with this, as his elves would no longer need to work overtime, at least for my children.

Here is the tree on Christmas morning. Santa hid a couple of large gifts behind the curtain.


Here are the gifts that the children got from us and also from Santa:

Bridget

  1. Pajamas (from us)
  2. New bike (from Santa)
  3. New helmet (from Santa)
  4. Puppy Surprise (from Santa)
George
  1. Pajamas (from us)
  2. Bike (from Santa)
  3. Helmet (from Santa)
  4. Hot Wheels cars and launch/track (from Santa)
Liam
  1. Toy remote (from us)
  2. Mega Bloks wagon (from Santa)
  3. Xylophone (from Santa)
  4. Cooties (from Santa)

George had wanted a bike for so long. He is almost 4 years old and was still riding around on a tricycle. I don't know why we, or Santa, waited so long. Here is George's face when he pulled the curtain aside and first saw the bike and realized it was his. I snapped it about the time he was saying "Huh?", in astonishment.


Bridget also needed a new bike, as she was outgrowing her old one. Along with the bikes came helmets, of course. Santa also makes safety a priority.

Bridget was very excited to get a Puppy Surprise for Christmas. She had seen the commercial and I told her that I had one as a child and ever since, she has also wanted one. It came with three puppies, one of which was a "runt". She has names for all of them.


George is very much into cars, so Santa got him a set of cars to add to his small collection. He now has double the cars he used to have. He could not wait to open it up and begin playing with them. His favorite is the brown Datsun truck (you can see it in top right of the box). He loves this one because Papa told him that he had a Datsun just like it, many, many years ago. So now it is known as "the truck just like Papa have".


Liam got a couple of noise makers. You can see them both in the picture. We had to get him a remote control because he is always trying to go after ours. He'll get a hold of it and will not give it up without a fight. He's got quite a grip! Now, he has his own remote that is not capable of recording TV shows we don't want recorded. It plays music, has flashing lights, and the buttons make noise. What more could he ask for? He also got a xylophone. I'm surprised that we never had one until now. All of the children love it, but I have to remind them that it is Liam's toy and if he wants to play with it, they need to give it back.


After opening Christmas presents (which did not take long, as there were only a few), my husband moved my van out of the garage so that the children could have a place to try out their new bikes (our driveway is on a hill, so they either ride in the garage by themselves or wait until a grownup is willing to go for a walk around the neighborhood). Bridget changed into some play clothes to ride her bike but George was too excited and stayed in his pajamas.

They went around and around in the garage for quite a while. When Bridget got her first bike, she could not figure out how to pedal and we always had to give her a push. George knew exactly what to do and was zooming right along. He is not too fond of having to wear a helmet (and will attempt to argue with me about it).


Later on Christmas Day, my husband took the children out for a ride. Bridget and George rode their new bikes as my husband pushed Liam in the stroller. He said they went around the block five times before stopping over at Granny and Papa's house for a visit. They stayed there for an hour or so, which gave me a nice Christmas gift of the house to myself so that I could do nothing other than prepare dinner.

The weather on Christmas was great. It reached about 80 degrees. My husband had four days off (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and then the weekend that followed). It was so nice to have him home and the long weekend went by far too quickly. His parents came over on Saturday to deliver presents and take us out to lunch. Bridget picked the restaurant, and of course she picked our favorite Thai place.

We still have the tree up (4 days later) and I don't know when I plan on taking it down. The Christmas season seemed far too short and I am not ready to pack it all up, but perhaps I should do so before the new year.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Week in Review 2015: #50

Life

We did a couple of fun things last Friday night. We drove to Raleigh to attend a Nativity Celebration and to watch Disney on Ice. We had a blast at both events. You can read about them in more detail by clicking on the links.


On Saturday, my husband took the boys to his parents house while Bridget and I spent the day together and watched a performance of The Nutcracker Ballet. It is an annual tradition of ours and we enjoyed it just as much this year as we have in the past. 


This week was also the last week of the year for all of our extracurricular activities. No gymnastics or dance until January! I'm a little excited about that. I really do not mind taking them to their classes, but it does feel nice that the only place we need to be for the next two weeks is church on Sunday.

In other news, we are getting closer to going under contract with our new house. There are a few more details to iron out and with my husband being an accountant, it makes the process take longer because he wants to know where all of the money is going, did we get a credit back for not including something, why does this cost this much when Lowes sells it for this much, it should not cost $1000 to install an oven... I could go on but I will stop there.

I was also forced to get a new phone this week. So far, I have been able to avoid having a smart phone. A few months ago, my dumb phone completely died. The battery would not hold a charge for even 5 minutes. My husband changed my phone to one of his old phones. This worked out for the first month, but the longest phone call I could have was 10 minutes before the phone shut off without warning. I had had enough of not having a reliable phone, so my husband ordered a brand new phone and phone plan and now I am rocking a smart phone with a pink case. I would still prefer not to have a smart phone, but technology will not let me stay behind. So far, my new phone is still being used only for phone calls and an occasional text message, so don't get too excited. I might decide to take a selfie one day, but don't hold your breath.

Homeschool 

We did a lot of math drill sheets at the beginning of the week and Bridget has gotten so much better at her +9 problems. She is also wanting to read more. No more nagging at her to get a boo kto practice reading. Instead, she grabs the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading off of the bookshelf and sits at the homeschool table and reads whatever words she can. This is done during her free time, might I add.

We are still trying to get back on track but I am learning now not to stress it. We will be doing school next week to make up for the days we missed due to sickness. 

Linking up to:


http://www.weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers.com/26338-2/

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Nutcracker Ballet 2015

Bridget and I have a Christmas tradition of attending our local Nutcracker performance. Many of Bridget's teachers and dancers from her dance academy participate, along with a few professional ballet dancers. We always have a great time getting dressed up and spending quality mommy-daughter time together. It won't be too long before this tradition ends and she will be the one on stage (or so she hopes). 

In the spring, we go to the same auditorium to watch her annual performance and have her picture taken in front of this fountain. This time she wasn't on stage but she wanted her picture taken anyway.


I usually get seats in the middle section, toward the back (because that is what is left other than the balcony section when I get around to purchasing them). This time, I got seats off to the left for a different view. This worked out better for us. We were so close to the stage and the orchestra. Here is Bridget in the aisle next to the row we were sitting on.


Bridget loved seeing her dance teachers play the parts of the parents at the beginning. Three of her teachers happen to be in this one picture.


One of my favorite parts is when they enter the land of snow:


What we did during intermission:



We also ran into Miss North Carolina's Outstanding Teen of 2015, McKenzie Hansley. Bridget saw her and thought she was a princess. We were about to go back in to take our seats in the auditorium but Bridget kept looking back at her, so I asked Bridget if she wanted to go say hello. Of course Bridget did not verbally say hello, being that she is incredibly shy, but I did get a picture of them together.


Once back inside, Bridget got to hold her new Christmas ornament, the Snow Queen. Another one to add to her collection.


The performance started back in the Kingdom of the Sweets. One of Bridget's older friends from ballet was playing the part of the court princess. Bridget was so excited to see her on the stage, and she did a fantastic job. The picture did not turn out the greatest (using the flash on the camera was not allowed) but she really did look just like a princess.


We also saw a few more of the older girls that help Bridget dancing in various other parts, but the pictures did not turn out. The very last part of  the performance, the Pas de Deux, is Bridget's favorite part. She got teary eyed and told me that she was almost crying because she loves the performance so much. Professional ballet dancers Maki Onuki (playing the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy) and Tamas Krizsa from The Washington Ballet were amazing.



The night of the performance as my husband and I were putting the kids to bed, Bridget began sobbing, saying that she wanted to see the performance again and that she was so sad that she has to wait an entire year. I am glad that she loves The Nutcracker Ballet so much.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Disney on Ice 2015

Last week, a dear friend of mine offered us her Disney on Ice tickets, as her family would be unable to attend the show. Not wanting the tickets to go to waste, she thought of my little family. I accepted her offer and the children were excited for the rest of the week and asked many times each day, "Is it time to go see the ice dancers now?" 

We were already planning on going to the Raleigh area that evening for a Nativity display, even though that plan was not yet set in stone because we had no idea what to expect and did not want to make the journey just to have it be a big flop (although it ended up being fantastic). The Disney on Ice tickets made the trip extra special. We took Bridget and George, leaving Liam at home with my parents. 

I loved seeing the looks of wonder on my children's faces as they watched the skaters dance on the ice dressed as some of their favorite Disney characters. I had never seen ice skating before (other than on television), so I was just  as excited. The show started with one of my favorites, Jiminy Cricket singing "When You Wish Upon A Star", with the Blue Fairy dancing on the ice.


Then came Bridget's favorite Disney characters from Beauty and the Beast! She was so excited and giddy! Rarely ever have I seen her express that sort of excitement in public. She was applauding and everything. 


Then many of the other Disney princesses came out. I tried to take photos of all of Bridget's favorites.


The dancers devoted a large segment of the show to the movie Frozen. My kids did not mind this at all. When Olaf came out, George started yelling, "It's Olaf! Look Mommy, it's Olaf!!!! Take a picture of Olaf!!!!!". I had the camera on him because of how excited he was, and he kept yelling at me over and over again and pointing his finger to Olaf. I finally turned the camera and got one of Olaf to make him happy.



A few other highlights of the show were of Aladdin and the Genie dancing to "Friend Like Me" (I still get teary-eyed when I hear Robin Williams' voice... brings back so many childhood memories of some of my favorite movies.)



I also liked the Mulan performance. I feel that this Disney "princess" does not get as much attention as the others, but I like her just the same.



The Lion King seemed to get the biggest audience reaction when Rafiki first came out and the "The Circle of Life" began playing. I failed to get pictures of that, but I did get Simba and Nala dancing to "Can You Feel the Love Tonight".


The finale:



We had such a great time. I am the worst at trying to remember to get tickets for shows like this and most often times don't even know they're playing until after the fact, so I know I would have never taken my kids to see Disney on Ice if the tickets hadn't been offered to me. Thank you!!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Nativity Celebration

Recently, we had the opportunity to travel to Apex, NC (just outside of Raleigh) to attend their annual Apex Christmas Nativity Celebration. We had heard many good things about it and wanted to see if it was something we could make a tradition in our family. Because we did not know really what to expect and we were on a tight schedule due to another event we were attending that night, we did not spend nearly as much time as we wish we could have. However, even our rushed 25 minute stop there was well worth it.

About the Nativity Celebration

It is held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Apex, North Carolina (which is located directly next door to the North Carolina Raleigh Temple). While it is sponsored by the church, it invites those from all over the community to participate. There are literally hundreds of Nativity sets from all over the community that people have graciously donated for a 3-day celebration of the birth of our Savior. There are musical performances by high school choirs, quartets, soloists, the Apex Stake Children's Choir, the Triangle Community Orchestra, and various other bands and musicians. It is a very popular event. The photo below shows how it looked just after opening at 6 p.m.


My older two children, ages 6 and 3, were mesmerized. They wanted to look at each Nativity in detail. I had to "shush" them when they tried to shout with excitement about what caught their eye.


The Nativities

There are Nativities of all types. Some come from various places throughout the world. Some are handcrafted/homemade. Some are very, very unique. Some of them are absolutely breathtaking. I took way too many pictures (as I usually tend to do) and narrowed it down to a few about twenty of my favorites. Especially while looking through the Nativities from various countries, it really puts into perspective how this one event in history has impacted the hearts and faith of people from around the world, and this is how they choose to commemorate it.

From Around the World



"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." 
- Luke 2:11


"Each of us is an Innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus." 
- Neal A. Maxwell


"Look for Christ and you will find Him. And with Him, everything else." 
- C. S. Lewis


"Christmas is the spirit of giving, without a thought of getting." 
- Thomas S. Monson


"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" 
- Isaiah 9:6


"As the Christmas season envelops us with all its glory, may we, as did the wise men, seek a bright, particular star to guide us in our celebration of the Savior's birth." 
- Thomas S. Monson


 "The glitter of the season should never ... prevent us from truly seeing The Prince of Peace." 
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf


My Children's Favorite



How Unique!



My Favorite "Homemade" Nativity


 

 Just Beautiful




Live Nativity Scene




"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men." 
-Luke 2:13-14

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