30 December 2016

Christmas Day

I am always grateful when the kids sleep in Christmas morning. Phillip woke up the kids around 6:30 with delighted whoops that echoed up through the vents. Soon our bedroom was a hive of stocking gifts being opened. I also put Grandma Baerwaldt's gift bags near the kid's doors as extra entertainment. We enjoyed stocking time, especially the yummy candy. Evelyn was delighted with the Elsa nail stickers and lip gloss.

I used toy boxes and a blanket to barricade the living-room from prying eyes. We lined up the kids and let them run to see what Santa left. The kids noticed Santa left footprints this year. He ate the cookies and even made a smiley face out of broccoli scraps. We listened to Amelia read Santa's letter before opening any gifts. Then the race began. Evelyn crooned over her new pink playhouse. She was in love. Santa brought her an Ariel hair styling set. She had some grumpy faces as she tried to pry the toys out of it's packaging.  Santa got each child a new watch! Phillip loves his ice dino and ninja watch. Everett got his Power Ranger Zword, was quite disappointed the remote was not functioning. I returned it to Santa and got a new one two days later...the new toy also has a broken remote. Poor kid! Amelia loves her Magic Sketch. We let the kids open gifts until the tree skirt was empty. Justin cooked up sausage and toasted pop tarts for breakfast. Evelyn set up a tea party for the kids with orange juice and breakfast food.

We rushed to get everyone dressed and ready for church at 10 am. We made it with time to spare, odd for me. After sitting in our pew I noticed Everett was wearing pants two sizes too small, so small I could not button or zip them at all. So he wore his pants freestyle. Evelyn had applied blue/purple eye shadow toddler style on her eyes. She looked like we beat her up! Thus attired and decorated our family entertained the audience.  Justin wrote the following account: "Our family was asked to sing "The Nativity" from pg. 52 of children's song book for Sacrament Meeting today. We nailed the first verse. During the second verse we put our stamp on it. Evelyn was finally able to reach the microphone and growl into it. While pulling her away and prying her hand off the mic, Jenni inadvertently induced some feedback into mic setting off that horrible squeal. During the third verse, Everett seeing the smiles from the congregation and small giggles decided it was his turn. He randomly leaned over into the microphone and blurted "blaaah" into the mic. He looked like he was going to back for a second round so I grabbed him by the neck and straightened him up until he started to whine. Here are some wardrobe notes. We didn't notice Everett's pants were too small until we were already at church. So he went up to sing with his pants unbuttoned and unzipped. Evelyn got play makeup for Christmas (not my idea). She painted her face before church with green and blue eye shadow so she looked a lady of the night who had possibly been punched in the eye." The rest of the program was very inspiring and lovely. Our choir sang several songs. We heard a talk and the testimony of our Bishop. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Christmas than going to church. It made this Christmas so special. Once at home we changed back into PJs. For lunch Justin and I introduced the kids to Swiss fondue. It was not well-received. Gross! Bleck! Ewwww! At least they enjoyed the finger foods plain or with Ranch dressing (gross) or Blue Cheese. We had steak, shrimp, bread, apples, carrots, broccoli, and olives to dip in cheese. The rest of the day the kids went from new present to present playing with and discovering the items. We played Yeti in my Spaghetti several times. I busted out my new ring light, made the kids pose for me. Phillip absolutely loves the millennial Falcon RC Grandpa Call got him. We played several rounds of PieFace. Everett kept getting the lucky number and whipped cream in his face. He got creamed 5 or 6 times, the other kids got creamed once maybe twice. The bopping balls were a huge hit. The animal hooded blankets so fun. Amelia scored with lots of unicorns: shirt, blanket, outfit, pillow, and books.

Right after church and fondue I took a short "nap." All the kids visited me to see how I was napping. Then the predicted ice storm swooped in with a vengeance. A crack of thunder, lightening, wind, and sleet pounded the north windows. It was quite the freak storm. Quite a bit of snow came down but the wind was so fierce it drifted all the snow or pushed it out of town. We were quite disappointed the snow did not cover the sledding hill this time around.

Justin roasted a delicious Prime Rib for dinner, rubbed with garlic, salt, and rosemary. I made mashed potatoes, mushrooms, and salad for side dishes. We basked in the chaos of post Christmas apocalypse with boxes, paper, toys, and stuff lurking on every surface possible. The basking is still present. Maybe I will get it all cleaned up before school goes back...realistically, not! Maybe after school resumes. I did attack the laundry 4 days later than usual. The normally impressive piles were super impressive this cycle.

We also dealt with lots of post-Christmas meltdowns. Emotions were high as kids guarded their special items, shared at times, played well, then ended playing with fights. Ya know, no rosey glasses here. It was pretty normal! Always crazy.

Josie busted out her first tooth Christmas night. I was up with her 3 times this week as she was restless. Poor baby was awake from 2-5 am several times this past week. She was up again last night so the next tooth must be cutting as well. Yay! She has a tooth.

Evelyn reminded me of Old Madam Mim this week. Her hair was so ratty and tangled, her face a crusty collection of grossness. At one point she had all her hair in her face, she parted her hair exactly like Madam Mim...said BOO with her crusty cheeks spread in a smile. Seriously. I am still laughing.

Christmas Eve

Our Christmas Eve was pretty relaxed. I worked on making sourdough bread bowls here and there for our clam chowder. The bread bowls make the chowder extra special and tasty. Outside was relatively warm so the kids made a landing strip for Santa and his reindeer then played with the neighbors for quite some time. Phillip and Everett made an Elf obstacle course for Innej and Nitsuj. The kids cleaned up their bedrooms so Santa would not trip over dirty clothes or toys. Justin fried up bacon and spearheaded the clam chowder production. Josie was hungry so nursed while the potatoes boiled. Amelia set the table complete with name placards and candles. Our friend Jen showed up just as dinner finished up. Her tummy was not feeling so great, she left a little while later.

The kids chose costumes for the Nativity play. Phillip looked handsome as a gray donkey; Everett was Joseph then a wiseman, lastly a star; Evelyn was a star and some sort of princess; Amelia was Mary and a sheep; Josie tried to be a cute sheep but hated the knit balaclava, she was much happier as Mary. Justin read the account in Luke 2 out loud, nearly yelling, over the constant hum of everyone talking. We were in the middle of watching a Piano Guys rendition of Oh Holy Night when the Nelves rapped on the window, rang the bell, and rang the bell again. Soon jingles erupted from the Elf's bells. Out on the porch was a bag of gifts and some candy. Shredded wrapping paper filled the room and squeals of delight over their new PJs. Evelyn LOVED her elf jammies. Since my studio items were still set up I captured some Santa PJ pics of the kids. Realistically, I think pulling out my hair would have elicited better emotions than corralling 5 kids. Hey, its all real. The kids got a dose of melatonin then sent to bed.

Justin and I worked on getting our gifts out and under the tree. Justin partially assembled the new playhouse for Evelyn and Josie. I screwed all the parts together later the next day. We went to bed anxious for Santa to come and bring his magic to Christmas. I took a macro photo of our tree, during processing I noticed that one of Evelyn's applesauce lids was resting on a tree branch.

29 December 2016

The Week Before Christmas

I love, love, love all the little activities that we have the week before Christmas. It is always so nostalgic on one hand and exciting to make new memories on the other hand. We resumed our donut making tradition this year. Last year I was way to pregnant and sick to even contemplate such a feat. I tried out a new recipe that was stellar, a copycat Krispy Kreme recipe. I had the dough ready, formed, and rising before dinner was over. We quickly set to frying up the treats, coating with frosting or powered sugar, and plating the donuts. Justin manned the fryer while I managed the rest. Amelia and Evelyn worked on cutting out a new batch of donuts. The boys and I frosted and plated the donuts. It was all quite crazy and busy. We ended up with 10 plates of warm donuts to deliver. Outside was very cold due to residual snow still on the ground. Justin got good use out of his yeller trying to get the kids to not throw snowballs and slide around. I was ambivalent since it looked pretty fun. We made quite the motley crew as we loudly invaded lawns and doorways of our neighbors. Everett melted down because he did not get a turn ringing a doorbell. Phillip slipped and tripped, ended up crying. Evelyn was crying because she wanted a rogue juice box she noticed on the garage floor. Josie contentedly sat in the stroller soaking up the shenanigans, patiently waiting for her moment to shine. Amelia is in a stage of constantly poking and pushing her brothers to distraction. We made it around the block in one piece, only one plate of donuts got smashed by the stroller wheels. Our strange neighbor across the way answered his door wearing black spandex pants and nothing else. I wanted to gouge out my eyes...I am glad he DID have the pants on. We piled into the van to invade Jen's shop and deliver a plate to one of Justin's home-teaching families. All in all, it was a great night. A splendid mass of chaotic learning, learning a new way to serve those around us.

Tuesday after school Phillip came home quite intent on getting his hair trimmed at the Barbershop, so his hairs would look handsome for his concert. Cal's is walk-in only, so we walked in to find 4 other folks before us. We barely made it to the concert in time, waited for over 70 minutes. By the time I realized we would be late I was not giving up our slot, I paid my dues. Justin swooped in and saved the day, he rescued Evelyn from the torturous wait, went home made grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone, and got Phillip dressed up in his duds. My favorite moment of his concert was when he very carefully adjusted his bow tie. He adjusted each side, looked down his face to make sure it was nice and straight. Then he grabbed his crotch in classic "I gotta pee" now pose. During the last song the kids got to play kazoos. Phillip was almost the last kid to get one, he was quite distraught, thinking he would not get one. When he finally got one, the precious kazoo went into his pocket, he promptly tooted it while the instrument was in his pocket. Phillip is a true shining Penny.

Next day at noon the 4th grade delivered their Christmas songs. It was quite windy which made the wind chill almost unbearable. My eyes were running making my mascara stream down my cheeks. I sat on the ground hoping the folks around me would act as wind breakers. Justin arrived later so we did not meet up until after. This year the sound system was MUCH better. We could all hear the kids clearly! Amelia and 3 other kids were selected to sing solos for a Owl City's "Shooting Star." She sounded so amazing! We are blessed to have that stellar kid in our family. Before the show Evelyn saw Amelia in the line up, she broke free and run up to her for a big hug. Amelia gave her a huge embrace after the concert. I adore when our kids are giving with affection to their siblings. The kids left by classes to carol at local businesses in the area. Justin, Evelyn, Josie, and I warmed up our frozen selves with hot chicken soup and gyro salad at Della's Cafe.

Christmas Break started early with Phillip waking up at 6 am asking to use the iPad. No....he can't get up on school days, but wakes up at the butt crack of dawn on days off for technology. Crimney sakes. Thursday we worked on cleaning up the basement, wrapping gifts for Justin, and playing a rousing game of Minecraft Legos. We decorated gingerbread houses after dinner. The boys worked together to decorate a Ninja Turtle themed house with green frosting. Amelia mostly got to decorate her own house. Once Evelyn ate the Elf on a Shelf gummy figure and ate her fill of candy she was done. The little girls enjoyed a nice sink bath while the older kids decorated. Those two are so silly!

Friday we made a special trip to Sterling since Justin took the day off. We had lunch at Santiago's. Everett was a bit carsick because he wore his coat the entire drive and got overheated. He barfed an impressive 4 times before the chips were consumed. Still, he ate a full meal like nothing happened. We stopped at Walmart so Phillip and I could see if they carried slippers in his size. No luck. The wait was more to see if Everett would really keep down his meal. He was all good. We spent the next couple of hours happily swimming in tepid pool water. Evelyn is now submerging her entire face in the water and swimming around like a mermaid. While I nursed Josie the kids and Justin played with some cool toys in the rec center part of the building. Evelyn was so exhausted she fell asleep right under the glow of the Christmas tree. I loved the magic of the moment.

**funny story about Everett. He found a quarter and proudly showed us, saying, "Mom! I'm rich a bitch!" I made him repeat his phrase to make sure I heard correctly. Yep, he said it. We talked about how even though the phrase perfectly rhymed the second rhyming word was a naughty word. Words you never except to come out of your kid's mouth.