Whatcha talkin' bout, Willis??

If you're too young to know that line, then all I have to say is *SIGH!* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw9oX-kZ_9k

Josh loves candy canes. Really.

Christmas Morning

I tried my dangdest (is that a word?) to keep Christmas low-key and inexpensive this year. I'm not really sure I succeeded, though...

We spent the holiday in Safford and opened presents with Nonnie and Papa. Josh LOVED the b-ball hoop and the Magnetix that Santa brought him (who says they're for ages 6 and up?? Not me!) and enjoyed the cool train that Papa made him too... though I'm not sure he was more excited about the train, or the roll in his hand that he was eating.
Manda got her Tinkerbell movie (it is the year of Peter Pan characters, you know) and was excited to give Daddy her homemade gifts. Notice the paper crown she cut and decorated, and the playdough shapes Daddy is examining here in the photo...
Both the girls got clothes and shoes, which were BOR-ING. Sheesh, mommy, what were YOU thinking?? They also got outfits for their Build-a-Bears, Kung Fu Panda and a couple of crafty-type toys from Santa. Aunt Courtney made the girls these awesome fabric-journal-pencil-holder things, which seriously are the coolest things since string cheese. I will have to take a picture of them and upload it. The favorite gifts BY FAR were their WEBKINS from Aunt Brenda. They are SO cool, and the girls have spent every spare moment on the webkins site online playing with them.

The Greatest Story Ever Told.

But the greatest story ever performed? Well.... let's just say Carter Nativity 2008 is now a thing of the past. I think we have a winner for Baby Jesus... Penelope was a PRO. Mary was a sweetheart, once again... heaven help any other little girl cousin who ever wants to play this role in the future - she'll have to fight Allison for it!Manda made a pretty good angel - she made sure we knew that she was going to be the "talker" angel with the FEAR NOT line. I think Joseph was trying to communicate via his earpiece to the other Jedi, I mean shepherd, who was abiding in the field.
Here was the other shepherd, who was making haste toward Bethlehem to see the babe in the manger. Don't you know, it's faster to take the bus than wait for all those sheep to gather.
Was this King Herod? I don't really remember. And why he's waving from the dead is another question for another day...
Thanks Carter cousins - see you next year!


These Kids.

Wow, I love my kids. They play really well together, generally... Here is one of those times they were in perfect harmony...My five-year-old is beautiful and an excellent helper around the house. My little boy imitates everything he sees, and is smart enough that he always knows how to get everything he wants. I love this series of pictures - crazy hair, dirty face, and those beautiful eyelashes...
Have I mentioned he loves toothbrushes? Except for the ones I use to actually brush his teeth with. That process he has ISSUES with, believe me. Though I don't have any new pics to post of her, my seven-year-old is awesome too, and polite and gracious. Tonight, as we were finishing up our dinner at Taco Bell, she turned to me, gave me a hug and thanked me for buying her dinner. So sweet...

Happy Birthday to me.

At the beginning of December, just in the nick of time before the ear infection hit, I hosted a b-day party for myself (I know, lame, right?) and had a white elephant gift exchange with some old friends. There were some DOOZIES of gifts, I must say. Yep, that's a belly dancing kit that Spence is holding.I'm happy to report that this strange little statue no longer greets me as I walk into my closet - yippee! Nick just had to take a picture with his blessed Thai dancer princess, or whatever it is, one last time, to say goodbye... And, I'm now the proud owner of this t-shirt. I know, you can't WAIT to invite me to your white elephant party next year for a chance of getting your hands on it!


Things that happened yesterday.

JJ woke up BRIGHT AND EARLY at 5am. Sheesh, this crib-independence thing is so not pleasant.

Daddy went to go play basketball.

The girls bought a pay-per-view movie while Mom was snoozing away. {Tinkerbell, thank goodness} Since then, all the Pay-per-view channels have been blocked, as well as anything with a title or rating above PG-13. Which brings me to something funny - I was scanning around the channels Sat. night and noticed that there was a blocked show on BYU tv, of all places... I had to go through the process to unlock it just cause I was so curious... and it was a show on the "curse of pornography" or something... because it had the "p" word in the title, my DVR blocked it. Ha!

Mommy finally got up and took the 7-year-old to a birthday party. It was at a rock climbing gym, and she LOVED it. All the other kids were a little skittish at first, but no, not this one. She scampered all the way to the top within minutes, and ended up climbing the most out of everyone at the party. Parents of the b-day kid were amazed, but honestly, I'm not surprised at ANYTHING Allison can do anymore. She's a natural at everything. I SO WISH I'd taken my camera.Here's what the place looked like, mostly...
Mommy got a couple more presents bought and wrapped. Gotta love those crazy sales at Old Navy! Also spent quite a bit of time at Hobby Lobby. Really, really starting to like that place. Please vote one group of the following stockings: Red and green collection:
Silver and white collection (though I'll have to find a coordinating 5th if we choose this one:
Came home and updated this tired old wreath. 'Tis MUCH better now, and only cost me about $4:
Finally put a star atop the tree. I think I like it:
Madly tried to get everything put away/cleaned after my many, many projects while the girls were at the park.

Nick put together Josh's toddler bed. Sigh... now the real work begins...

Picked up the babysitter, went to dinner at Il Posto. That place is fan-freaking-tastic, if I do say so myself. Finally got my overdue birthday cheesecake.

Learned that Manda had locked herself in our room for hours while the babysitter was here, pouting. And that Josh had spent 1/2 hour screaming in his room before he finally gave up and went to sleep... that's progress!


Big enough.

Sometime in the last couple of weeks, my little 18-month-old has decided he's too big for his highchair. He WILL NOT stand for being buckled into it, nor will be even sit at the counter anymore. He must be standing on a chair at OUR table before he'll even think about putting anything in his mouth.

So much for knocking on wood last week. He's also figured out how to climb out of his crib in the last couple of days, so naptime/bedtime has been a big drama cycle of screaming, throwing his blankets, pillow and giraffe out of his bed, climbing out, running to the door, and then getting put back to bed by me. Right now he's asleep on the floor just inside his door, because I had to lock it so I could take a shower. Sheesh!

Who taught this kid to be so stubborn? COULDN'T have been the rest of his family, you don't think... ?

I refuse to get one of those crib tents, let him manipulate me, or cater to this in any way... ugh... somebody remind me about the Love and Logic ways, please???? I'm not ready for the toddler bed YET!



I heart mono adhesive.

And I tend to go through A LOT. Especially at Christmas-card making time. I have found what I think to be the cheapest place to order refills online, so I thought I'd share. I always order enough to just qualify for the free shipping. ($50) For new orders (or new email addresses to register) they have a $10 coupon right now, so I got 18 refills for just about $41. Not bad. That should last me the next 1-2 years of cards and scrapbook pages! If you don't have a dispenser, then make sure you order one of those too... they're $3.70 on that site. Those of you still using those silly little tabs out of those boxes, with the silly little blue backing tabs, you know who you are, please, make the switch already.



Take a deep breath.

Whew! It's OVER. Yee-haw. Christmas in Zarahemla is officially now a thing of the past. And nope, I didn't get a single picture taken of anything. Still breathing sighs of relief, though. Should I talk about all the things that went wrong? Besides being a couple hundred bucks over budget, that is... how about the fact that our piano player broke her arm yesterday and couldn't play for us? The fact that the video Rachel had spent a week on crashed her computer, and we weren't able to show it? Or how about the fact that we hadn't run through the program even ONCE with the actors, and therefore everyone was guessing as to where to be, where to stand, when to leave, and what to do while the spotlight was on them? Or how about the fact that I had no stage hands backstage, and forgot to turn all the stage lights on while the actors were up there? The fact that we had WAY TOO MUCH FOOD, but yet, not an ice cube anywhere for the drinks? Oh, and I SO forgot to get a chorister for the last song, so no one knew when to start or stop Silent Night. Nice, huh? How about the young women, the YW leaders and Jackie spending HOURS on the salt dough tokens and then we didn't end up even using them! Ugh. Or Ashlee cutting 40 yards of tule into countless strips that we didn't end up using either? Double ugh.


So all the things that went right?

1 - BROTHER BILL, for one. Holy cow, he's great. Even time and time again, when I take advantage of him, activity after activity, he's still willing to lend his talents. Again. At the last minute. Again.

2 - The food was excellent, I thought, at least. I loved that someone else made it and all we had to do was go pick it up...

3 - We had a backup piano player fill in at the last second, and she did wonderfully!

4 - The Great and Spacious Apparel Shop was a HIT! Ashlee and Co. outfitted the entire ward as Nephites, and everyone got into it and looked great.

5 - Almost all of our singers were great, though the primary's 2nd verse knowledge of "Samuel tells of the Baby Jesus" was a little fuzzy. Mary was pure and lovely, and remembered every word, and completely looked the part. I wish I could have watched her sing, instead of turning pages at the piano!

6 - Decor was... involved. Ha! Everyone complimented it, though - so that tells me I just looked at it for too long, when I feared it was just cheesy as heck. At least our fake/real palm trees looked cool, thanks to Deirdre!

7 - and the last positive thing: this activity taught me that we HAVE to scale back. Next year will be about simplicity, methinks. Stay tuned!


Coming out of the fog...

I can feel it... the antibiotics kicking in...yes, I think, maybe...I just might be up for makeup and clothes and perhaps even DRIVING MY CAR SOMEWHERE today. Yes, it's been 6 days since I drove. Woah. Watch out. I still may not be able to hear out of my right ear, and I still look like death, but at least I'm not coughing up as much blood or dizzy with pain, assuming I'm still popping the Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Thanks to all who filled in as pinch hitters for me this week. And thank goodness for early-morning tutoring, preschool, gymnastics, Daddy, Grandma, and playdates. Aaaahhhh.....

Now, onto all that stuff I pawned off on other people for the Christmas party...


Happy birthday to me.

What a great birthday! I woke up this morning to two very excited little girls with their arms loaded with gift bags for me. First was a collection of earrings, mirror and tiny ceramic penguin from Allison (gotta love school holiday fairs) and then from Manda, a super-sized Special Dark chocolate bar, and a box of green bags! I LOVE how excited they were to give me their gifts. Oh, and the best gift of all, they had gotten together and made me a dolphin and snowflakes out of playdough and arranged them so perfectly inside an old pencil box. Funny. Such cute girls! Also, just in time for my birthday, I got a huge EAR INFECTION! It's lovely and red and throbbing, and makes moving my head difficult, and every sound amplified. I'm pretty sure my eardrum ended up rupturing, too, just for a bonus. What a great day... is it over yet?


Church callings make me sick.

I find myself, today, home from church and sick as can be... again. I can hardly swallow, it hurts like crazy to cough, and my head is pounding. I think big, stressful events in my life make me physically ill. And most of the time, these events occur because of my various church callings. They are also, I believe, the cause of my skin breaking out and my body ingesting entirely too much comfort food and/or diet pop. Hmmm...

This is just how I roll, unfortunately. People can tell me to simplify and not worry and delegate all they want, but still, the responsibility for the fabulousness of whatever's going on lands squarely on my shoulders. I can't help but feel the weight of it. I think back to six weeks ago when I started googling and thinking of an idea for our Christmas party - and felt like Zarahemla WAS SOOOO the right direction to go... but now, holy cow, I find myself with 5 days to go and 500 things to still coordinate/build/borrow/set up... we don't have nearly the budget I thought, it's too late to change plans, and I'm so weak I can barely do anything.

There was a time, probably for a year, that I had a calling to teach Relief Society, (which I loathed). And once a month, like clockwork, the week preceding my lesson, I would get horribly sick. Seriously. It was too much of a coincidence for there not to be a connection.

So tell me, what's the solution? I need to simplify - should they just call me as the hymn book collector after Sacrament Meeting each Sunday? Throw me back behind the piano in Primary again? Or how about I become the one who's responsible for bringing the bread each Sunday? I KNOW I could do that, at least. What's the most stress-free calling you've ever had? Please share, my health and sanity depend on it...


This boy...

Is 18 months old now and will be legal in nursery on Sunday. Woohoo!

Loves his giraffe, blanket and pillow - and insists that you pick them ALL up when pulling him out of his crib.

Has NOT started climbing out of his bed yet. Knock on wood. His sisters were SOOOO over the crib containment stage by this age.

Screeches and squeals instead of talks.

Has long, pretty eyelashes that make his mother jealous.

Is hard to fit in clothes, and only has two pair of pants that fit.

Loves to throw things. Toys down the stairs, food off his tray, sippy cups toward my head... you name it.

Needs a good haircut in a bad way. All my mistakes are starting to show... and the curls aren't coming back to hide them.

Will cuddle with his sisters when he's sad and Mom's not around. How sweet is that?

Is asserting his independence and showing a picky-eating streak. Please, no, not another one...

Loves to sword fight. He will bring you a sword or lightsaber and then proceed to beat on you with his own.

Gets about a thousand kisses and hugs a day.

Gets carried around awkwardly by his sisters A LOT. And doesn't seem to mind too much.

Doesn't have any problems chewing on any and all toothbrushes, no matter the owner...


Dear Santa,

I liked Amberly's letter to Santa, so I thought I'd write one of my own.

Hey there Santa,

It's me, your helper. Yep, I'm always the one that helps your elves out with all those handmade gifts for my friends and family, and a truckload of handmade Christmas cards every year.

You may be wondering what I want for Christmas. Sigh... honestly, not much that you can do, I don't think. Just a few more weeks to prepare for our Christmas in Zarahemla party next weekend. I know YOU'RE a time traveler, maybe you can teach me? And you're so darn productive for that one night a year. Maybe a tutoring session on how to do the same and get so much accomplished? Along with a couple hundred more bucks in the budget so I don't have to stress over food? Along with actors and singers who can commit to a practice and making their own costume?
Another thing I'd like? An hour and 15 minutes every day to myself to go run at the gym. I promise you could take the privilege away if I didn't use it. Even once.

BTW, do your elves hire out to hang up Christmas lights on residential homes? I'm SURE they're experts!

Oh, you're probably wanting something tangible to give me, though. I know, I know, your elves aren't in the "service" providing business, they're in the "stuff" providing business. But seriously, I'm up to my eyeballs in stuff around here, and don't. need. one. more. thing. You've done very well over the last 33 years, so basically you've gifted yourself out of a job.

Maybe I should have typed this list a month ago and asked for anything but a socialist president for my country...


I digress. I'm not going to assume I know your politics, Santa! Let's see here... oh! There IS actually something I want, that comes in a package, from a retailer. Wow. A rarity! Check these out for my kitchen and bathrooms, aren't they lovely?There are even pulls to match - Sigh. I know you're thinking "Why hasn't she just ordered them herself? She knows how to find the best price online!"

Well, you see Santa, I need 30 of those cute little knobs. And like 18 or 20 of the pulls. And try as I might, I just can't bring myself to hit that "Submit Order" button on the Woodworkers Hardware site. I've spent almost 300 bucks on my children in the last three days, and I just can't justify another dollar when I've still got about 10 people to shop for.


Have a great month, Santa. I hope I can be half as productive in the next 20 days as your little elves are!