Saturday, January 31, 2009

Christmas Wishlist Clear-Up

Well, I have to clear up one thing from my Christmas Wishlist post (I don't know how to link a previous post, so look to the right under previous posts in December and you'll find it). It has to do with what I wish when people are calling me and don't leave messages. I guess I've given a few people a complex. Hahha. I don't mean to chuckle, but I feel so bad cuz I didn't mean to cause such a stir.

Here's my clarification...

I too don't leave messages sometimes. But when I do that, it's because I'm either going to quickly call your cell phone OR I don't need you to call me back.

Likewise, if you call me and don't leave a message, I just will assume I don't need to call you back. But don't feel like you HAVE to leave one just because of what I said in my post. ;)

I hope that clears things up for some of my dear friends, and you don't need to worry anymore. ;) Love you guys.

Guess Who's On His Way Home?


This guy has been gone to Germany for oh-so-long... and before that, it was Japan. And before that it was... oh, I don't know, I've lost count. We got him for a brief moment for the holiday season and then he was off again. We've really missed him and just can't wait til he's home. We pick him up tonight around 6:30. He'll be home for one day and then he leaves to New Jersey. We "would" be sad that he's leaving again.... EXCEPT this time he's taking us (yes, all of us) with him! Why am I excited? Well, if anyone knows their geography, New Jersey is way close to New York City. We'll be there for two weeks. Yipppeeee! And i know people think I'm crazy because it's so cold over there, but I think we're gonna have a great time. Anyone have any fun places for us to go? (Besides the usual that we're already going to do... Central Park, Rockefeller, Town Square, Empire, Statue of Liberty, FAO Schwarz, Serendipity, etc.) Can't wait! I'll fill you all in on our fun travels. :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS...

Okay, so this last week I've realized that there are a couple of things that have just made my life so much happier and easier. They seriously give me joy now that I've let all practicality go OUT the window. Everyone's GOTTA have those things you just can't live without. And don't judge. Like I said...practicality...gone.

So these are the three most recent wordly possessions that make me smile... Do you have anything in specific that you love? Please share.

Eddie Bauer Cherrywood High Chair...

I had a hard time bringing myself to by this. Here's why:

1. It was $129.99.

2. There was another high chair that was a 3-in-1. The chair popped off and it became a booster seat that you could hook to another chair. And then as the child gets older, the back comes off to make a big kid booster chair. Practical, right? And cool too. It even had a super euro pattern that I knew Brian would like. Plus, it was $30 cheaper. But I REALLY wanted the cherry wood one. Thank you Jacque for talking me into just getting what I really wanted. Remember? Practicality out the door.

I'm in love with this high chair. Every time I walk in the door and see it waiting for me, I get a little burst of happiness in me. :) And Spencer loves it too. It has some great compartments under it for storing your food and bibs, which is a bonus and the tray is really cool. Pop-off insert and it slides much easier than the cheaper high chairs that the tray constantly falls off and it's hard to slide on and off. This high chair, besides it's beauty, has it's bonuses too. :)

Oh! did I mention that I loved it so much that I took a bunch of stuff back that I had bought Spencer but hadn't used yet, and then had $50 in Gift Certificates from a couple people. So I basically got the chair for free! Well, in my mind anyway. teehee :)

Cocomotion Hot Chocolate Maker


I've had this thing in my cupboard in it's box for the last two years. Brian has pulled it out a few times but I've never really been around to "catch the fever." Brian's sister gave this to us two years ago for Christmas. Supposedly you can get it at Walmart, but only at Christmastime.

I never used it cuz practicality pushed too far forward in my mindset to get me to pull it out of the box and make the hot cocoa when I could just warm up a glass of milk in the microwave and stir in the chocolate.

Practicality is now gone. We used this every day for two weeks at his parent's house. We bought 8 flavors of Brian's favorite hot chocolate maker, Stephen's, and had chocolate at least 2 or 3 times a day. It's SO f'amazing! You just put the milk in (the pitcher is pre-marked), dump the chocolate in and push a button. 5 minutes later, 4 cups of whipped, frothy hot chocolate are piping hot and ready to go. And if your hot chocolate gets cold, you just dump it back in there, push the button and it whips and heats itback up for you. This now has a permanent place on our countertop, at least during the winter.

Clorox Disposable Toilet Wand




This has changed my life. I know. You're thinking, why in the world is she posting about toilet cleaners? :) Because now I actually don't mind cleaning toilets anymore. (I said "don't mind", not "I like doing it".)
Why I hate cleaning toilets:
1. Besides the obvious fact that people do their business in there (which many of you know that took a lot of courage for me to even write, what with my issues of that whole subject)
2. I hate that we store our toilet brushes that we've just scrubbed a dirty toilet with, right next to the toilet. And I don't know very many people who actually disinfect the brush after they've used it. Maybe you do, but I've never heard of it. It grosses me out though that they've just been rinsed off, or semi-cleaned and put back for the next time.
3. I hate looking in toilets.
4. Did I mention I hate cleaning the toilet? hehe
Well, with this one I had to let go of all practicality for sure because they're totally not "green" and recyclable. But when you've used them for the first time you will be amazed. You don't have to touch nothin', you don't have to gag and you don't have to have dirty toilets. They pop on and off the wand, and the comet is already in scrubber. It also is great for washing around the base of the toilet where some people have a toilet rug (issues with those too) and all around the sides WITHOUT TOUCHING ANYTHING. hehe.
I love my clean toilets.







Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Update on the SCHOOLING situation



For reference sake, I thought you guys might like a picture... :)

Tuesday

10:00 a.m. Posted about my feelings. That afternoon I was going to go in and give a piece of my mind to the principal. Remember?

1:00 p.m. Just as I was signing my name (no joke!) to a letter to the teacher to let her know this would be the girls' last day, I got a phone call from the art teacher saying that both Xoe & Xanthe were going to be getting an award at the Ceremony on Friday, as well as an Honor Roll award for good grades (what! according to their own teacher they were falling behind. I don't "get" her sometimes).

I put plans on hold til I could talk to the girls to see if they wanted to get through it just til Friday. I swear I thought that that sounded like more fun (to get an award), but they seriously did not want to stay. They didn't even care about the award.

Well, after some talking and discussing, they decided to stick it out til Friday.

Friday "Awards Ceremony" Day


(This picture is not from the Awards Ceremony Day. It's from when we visited their classroom in December.)


I'm so proud of the girls. As mentioned, they got an Art Award, made the Honor Roll and even got a Math Facts Award, which meant they moved up 10 levels of the Math program in school.


Anyway! The teacher, like always, tried oohing and ga-ga-ing over Spencer and saying, "I'm so mad at you! First you bring him, then you take him, then you bring him, then you take him. You've got to let me hold him more!" I just stared at her in disbelief. It was a good thing my friend Danielle was standing right there with me because I knew she could understand what I was going through. Her son was in the same class two years ago and she dealt with the same issues. She was so distraught when her son would come home in tears almost every day.


I couldn't wait til I could pull the girls. My anger was fuming and fuming more and more by the minute. BUT! The girls said they wanted to stick it out til Monday because they were having an Art Party, which they were being rewarded for their good behavior. (Ahhh! More good behavior rewards. Maybe their teacher should learn something from the other teachers who actually know what they're doing. Kids respond better to being rewarded rather than punished)

Monday

The girls made it through til 10:30 when the Art Party ended. They were more than happy to be done with that teacher and were so relieved when they came home that they helped me clean and organize the whole house and garage.


Did I talk to the principal? I sure did. But it didn't get as heated as I thought. As many problems and gossip that I've heard about the principal not being any better than their teacher, she was very nice and receptive and listened to all my concerns. She said, though, that she wished more people would document their experience because she doesn't have much to go off of in the way of evidence in order to do something about it and asked me to see if I could talk to the other parents I knew of to put it in writing.


I thought the meeting went well...mostly because I didn't have to yell. But I DON'T think it went well because of the fact that I really don't think she's gonna do anything about it. I've heard from many sources who know this principal well says that she does exactly the same thing as the girls' teacher. She tells you what you want to hear and then does nothing about it.


On a side note, that same morning, I found some papers that one of the girls had doodled on that said, "I hate Mrs. Benny!" "I'm having a nightmare and it's cuz I'm in Mrs. Benny's class." and "Why do I have to be here? She is so mean!" My heart is full now that, hopefully, they are going to be so much happier not being in her class.


What are we doing about homeschooling?

At first I was going to do it on my own. They have great curriculum books at Barnes & Noble, and it seems so easy.


But then a girl in the ward told me about the free Arizona public online school that will send you all the materials, including art supplies, science supplies and even a loaner computer if you need one. The girls would take all their tests online and do a lot of their assignments there too if they choose. I have signed up for it, luckily in time as I almost missed the due date.


I'm still undecided though. My friend, Leah, told me that they really make you give a huge time commitment every day and with all our trips I don't know if I can do that. So, we'll see. I'll know by tomorrow. I'm very excited though, as are the girls. They've been asking every day what they can do for homeschooling. So, I've been making up things that they can do towards it. Yesterday, we went grocery shopping and I made up a price comparison sheet for them to work on, and then a sheet that told them how much money they had, what they needed to by and then they had to figure out how much change they'd be getting back. So, we're using every day things for teaching lessons! It's fun for now. I'm waiting for when it's not new anymore, therefore becomes "unexciting".


Thanks everyone for your wishes of good luck and support. I laughed at all of them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

CHANGE IS COMING




Just as a warning, this is a long post. There are some feelings I've been going through that I just really needed to express to my loved ones. And because I feel better when I write, I thought sharing them with you would help me sort through my feelings. But you've been warned...it's long.


...There are lots of things always changing and ongoing at our house. Between school, Girl Scouts, church, Showbiz, piano, the girls' ExtraCurricular activities (gymnastics, personal art classes, hip hop dance) and their ever-growing circle of friends (who always feel they are attached at the hip and have to include each other in every move they make! I don't remember being that kind of 'Tween, or teenager. Maybe I was. Mom, was I?), we're used to change. Ya...it's exhausting. But we get through it.

And it's fun.

And we love our life.

Or I thought we did. But like everything, things come that we need to reevaluate how we're doing things and if we need to make a change. So ya, change is coming...(And before anyone freaks out, there is nothing like divorce, or death or anything like that that I'm talking about.)

Change is coming to our household. It's a bittersweet change. And I don't know why, but as I sit and type this, my heart hurts.

This is what it is...I've decided to bring the girls home from school and teach them through the rest of the year. Yup! We're homeschooling. But I'm not doing it because of my belief in homeschooling,which was my reasoning for doing it before.
It's because the situation at school has gone from bad to worse.
And this is what the girls want.

And have been begging for.

Because they come home in tears almost every day because their teacher has, once again, degraded them, belittled them or screamed one too many times.

It has slowly gotten worse. It wasn't like this at the beginning. I thought their teacher was great. But boy, she sure did know how to "snow" the parents. When we're there, it's great and happy and hunky dory! But the minute we leave, the kids are shouted at, given F's, and have their recesses taken away (against the law, btw)...and the good kids get punished for the bad kids' actions. They're punished whether or not it's because the whole class has done something, or one kid didn't turn in their homework. Last time she took it away from October through Winter Break.

She gave it back at the beginning of the year.

And now it's gone again.

And they then spend their recesses writing five paragraph essays on why they can't stand still in line correctly. Whether it's because one kid was tapping his toe, or because another one was late running back from P.E. because he forgot his sweater on the basketball court. Everyone loses the recess time.

The first part of the year, the girls complained about it, but were adamant about not leaving because they didn't want to leave their friends.

Come January 6, their first day back from Winter Break they said, "Ya, it wasn't so bad. We'll stick it out."

Come January 15, their comment was, "Mom, I think we want to start being homeschooled."

Come January 20, Xoe came home as quiet as can be with a very sad, and very large frown on her face. She wouldn't tell me what was wrong, even after much prodding and encouraging. Finally, Xanthe broke the silence and started tearing up while telling me all about how their teacher is horrible. And how she yelled at Xanthe for not hearing her when she was supposed to turn in her homework and told her she could give it to the teacher at the end of the day. Which at the end of the day, the teacher adamantly refused to take it and gave her an F.

(By the way, it is REALLY noisy in their class too and I've been there. Instructions are hard to hear and everyone seems to talk to Xoe & Xanthe about everything, even when they are taking a test. So the girls get in trouble a lot for other people. One time I had to tell a kid to leave her alone when Xanthe was taking a test on the computer. The girl just kept saying, Xanthe, Xanthe, Xanthe, Xanthe. Xanthe just covered her ears and told her to go away, but the girl wouldn't. Xanthe was so frustrated but hates telling people off. I'm getting mad just thinking of that scene that went on. But of course the teacher doesn't know how to keep these kids under control and create a good learning environment)

And then Xanthe proceeded to tell me how she refused Xoe to go the bathroom.

THAT was my last straw! (Hopefully many of you know of Xoe's special needs from her bowel problems since birth. She has special permission to go whenever she wants. Hopefully you know so I don't have to go into it here, but so that you'll understand the gravity of my anger at this point and how serious this that she refused Xoe. If you don't know, all you need to know is that it would be REALLY bad if she didn't go when she needed to. Aske me later and I'll explain this to you.)

Xoe and Xanthe are very good students. They have never had a problem with their teachers in the past. Their previous teachers even told me they wouldn't even think of sending school work when we'd go away on a trip to California because the girls picked up everything so fast and they didn't need it. They were way ahead. Now? They're falling behind in 4th Grade. Falling behind for things that aren't even being taught! Cuz this teacher does not teach.

And remember when the girls wanted to stay in school because of a few of their friends? Well, yesterday was the last day for the one last friend who was left.

The others have already left.

So, why does my heart hurt?

I wondered if it's for my loss of freedom I have when they go to school. Any ounce of freedom to get my house clean, do my computer work and do my errands...anything that helps me catch up so I don't feel overwhelmed. Cuz let's be honest. I don't do a very good job of juggling all these things, so I need any time I can get. When I don't do them, I feel overwhelmed.

Or does my heart hurt for the inner "B*#&" that I'm going to have to pull out when I go in to talk to the teacher and principal. I do not like confrontation. At all. I would rather just sneak away and fix it myself. That's how I handle most things in my life.

But, I know what I need to do.

For my girls' sake.

For them to see that this is NOT okay...not okay for them to be treated like this. But that it IS okay to stand up for themselves.

And as a mother, I need to protect my children. And to help in some small way to be another voice to the already multiplying voices of parents unhappy with this teacher. To help the other kids in their class. To help the ones who don't have a choice. To help the ones who I have gotten to know over the years who previously used to be happy and fun-loving kids, but now hang their head as they walk down the hall. THAT'S not okay with me.

Maybe that's why my heart hurts. For those other kids too.

Maybe it's a mixture of all those things.

But I think the reason that outweighs all the other reasons, my heart hurts for my beautiful little girls who are being abused by a person they are supposed to be able to look up to and feel safe.


My heart hurts when my daughter wakes up in the morning, the 5th morning in a row, and is really crying because her stomach has a really bad pain in it. And I know in my heart it's because she doesn't want to face the day. A day with THAT woman.

It hurts when they come home from school begging to not go back. Beg! What child should have to beg to not go to school because they're so afraid?

And it hurts when she wakes me up at 3:00 a.m. after the decision is made that this will be her last day, that her "mind is getting the best of her"...and she is shaking. And the one thing, she says, that would make her feel better is to have me hold her and snuggle with her. And I don't bring up what I'm really thinking, because I don't want to keep acknowledging it and causing her more stress, but I know it's because she doesn't want to have to face that teacher and worry about what the wrath is going to be when the teacher finds out that they're leaving TOO!

My heart hurt until 5:00 a.m. after my baby crawled in bed with me. I spent that time in my deep consciousness practicing all the phrases I was going to use with the principal the next day (today) to let her know what's going on. To be able to ask her, without flipping out, how can she let abuse like this go on in her school? For year after year? She is supposed to protect these children. (But I know better. She is only there to protect the teachers.) And how can she not care about these children who's future in education could be forever damaged because of one bad teacher? How? How? How?


This is where I'm at. And yes, I am going to get other parents involved to file their reports with the School District and hopefully have something done about it.


But in the meantime, Brian is taking us all to New York! And I'm going to cheer them up by taking them ice skating in Central Park and Rockefeller Center. And take them to see Tiffany's on 5th Avenue where one of their favorite movies was filmed. And then take them shopping at F.A.O. Schwarz, the biggest toy store around where they can spend all the birthday money their grandmas have given them. I think that should work, don't you?


Oh, and then after our NYC trip, they'll turn around and head to Utah to spend two weeks with their dad in Utah. And then in April we'll be taking a trip to Germany. I think those things should take their mind off of the horrible experience they call 4th Grade. Ya?


And how come we can do that? (Well, besides the fact that my husband is the greatest husband, stepdad and dad to all of us). Cuz I love them enough to sacrifice my freedom for their happiness. And ya...I get that it's not even a sacrifice. When done out of love, it doesn't even feel like a sacrifice. They're my babies and I would do it again and again for them.


And now I'm off. To have confrontation. I'm SO ready! I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

SHEER DESPERATION, Part 3

SPENCER'S LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

He's eating this roll as if I never feed him! He annihilated it. It's like he had never had anything so wonderful and beautiful. He just closed his eyes and sucked on it like a nipple. Woooow....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

LAUGHING AT SPENCER'S EXPENSE

So, when Heather was out here in December, i came home to her pulling out decorations and feeding Spencer. What fun that was! Except I saw tears streaming down her face. At first I thought something had happened until I realized she was laughing! Take a look. And yes, it's at Spencer's expense, but come on, how funny are these videos...hahaha

SPENCER & SWEET POTATOES

video

SITUPS

video



I really wish the one of him eating bananas uploaded but I don't know why it didn't. It's too large of a file I think. But that one he actually starts shuddering. hahaha. I'm crying right now watching them.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

SLEDDDDDING!

And Brian thought I didn't like snow!?! (Well, actually I don't. I would hate to live in it, even though I eventually am going to, but I love visiting it and I love when it snows for a few days in Sierra Vista. It's very serene and beautiful. But only for a day or two.)


Who's rockin the slopes now? Yup! That's me!

It was a whole family affair sledding at the golf course in Utah...

1. Brian & I & Spencer

2. Brian's Mom & Dad

3. Brian's sister's husband Sheldon and two of their kids.

4. My brother Sam and his daughter Ainsley

5. And Xoe & Xanthe and their dad and his whole family.

Yup! We all wanted to go sledding! Why not do it all together?! It was a grand ol time. Here are lots of pics for your enjoyment.


The picture below is when Sam eased Ainsley into go down all the way by herself. She even rode on my back, both of us on our stomachs. How dang cute is she!
Ahhh ya! That's right! We even took little Spinny down. :) He, well, "kind of" loved it. I think the snow was just too bright for him. He was plenty warm with that way cute snowsuit on.


I don't know what happened to Xanthe. All of these pictures I'm posting are with Xoe (see below). I need to see if anyone has pictures of Xanthe...too bad people can tell them apart now. I can't pass Xoe off as Xanthe anymore like I used to.
The picture below is Brian attempting to snowboard on a sled. I think he got the hang of it and actually made it down. But it was pretty funny watching him at first though. I don't think sleds were made to board it.
K. We seriously had such a fun time. I could sled all day. Brings me back to the good ol days. Girls (sisters), you remember them? Sledding in Smith Park, and being pulled behind our station wagon on our street with nothing but a rope and sled tied onto the bumper. Good times. Good times. (Still don't wanna live in it though. )

Monday, January 12, 2009

SHEER DESPERATION, Part 2

Oh, what do you do when...

1. Your 6 Month Old is horribly sick with a chest congestion cold...
2. He can't breathe (through his nose OR his mouth)...
3. He can't sleep because he can't breathe...

AND

4. Mom and Dad need some SERIOUS sleep...

Breathe Right Strips! Yup, they make them for kids and you bet I used them! Leah Grammer totally gave me the idea and although they were a little big for his face, they totally helped him sleep. Not through the night but at least he wasn't waking up every 30 minutes. (This was Spencer on our Utah Trip for Christmas...no fun!)

GOING.... GOING...

GONE!!!

OUT for the count!!!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Utah-SAMMY'S




My brother Sam has this way cool diner in Provo. It's super tiny but way fun. You get to take your picture with a Polaroid camera and hang it on the wall amongst the hundreds that are already up there. He has fun sandwiches and burgers, as well as Shakes ("Make it, Shake It, Take it...you create your own"), Real Pie Shakes (It has a real piece of pie in it) and his own mix of fry sauce (BBQ Sauce, Ranch Dressing, Ketchup and Mayo). It's actually pretty good...to dip your Sweet Potato Fries or Beer Battered Fries (my inlaws had a hard time with this one. They're on a mission in SLC and asked Sam for an explanation they could give to their Mission President for eating "beer battered" fries...hehehe).


Here are the girls with Sam's little girl, Ainsley. She's a doll and I TOTALLY got her on my good side. hehe. We don't see her very much so she is a little shy around me, but notsomuchanymore! Score!
Spencer and Brian.....Check out the "Sammy's" Van rockin it in the background. It even backs up with an announcement over the load speaker to "move away" in SPANISH! hehe.







So, if you're ever in Provo, check it out. It's a real cool hangout for students and families. It gets really crowded on weekends though. Check out my link to the "Sammy's Blog" on the right hand side!

Friday, January 9, 2009

WANNA KNOW MY FAVORITE PART?


So, I just had an epiphany! I just realized that... through all my bah humbugness of Christmas, I realized that there is hope for me! And that there are a few things about Christmas that I like.
And it's pretty high on my list... Christmas Cards! I love sending them. And I love receiving them.

I just realized this because I just got the thrill of hanging about 20 Christmas cards all at once. Since we were gone, I didn't get to see most of them until after we got back. I just had the funnest time opening and reading everyone's cards.

I don't know why I feel that way about Christmas cards. Is it because I realized how fun it is to see all of them displayed on a wall? Probably. Or because it's so fun to fit all the geometric shapes together in a fun design? Maybe. Or is it because I realized that even through blogging, facebook, myspace, etc., there are so many who don't stay in touch with each other...except at the one time of year that we call Christmas.

And as I stepped back to view the beauty, I realized...all these people are people whom I truly love...And they're my friends. Thank you to everyone who sends Christmas cards. You really make my Christmas Season special in more ways than you know. :) Do you see yours up on the wall? Fun, huh?
And I hope all of you received ours. I know a lot of you have moved recently so please let me know your new address!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

CHRISTMAS BAKING & DECORATING


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...


Another late post...But for my own sake, I just needed to put this on the blog. (It's in my plans, they may be far away plans, but they're there...of printing the blog into a book like scrapbooking).

So, most of you know my Bah Humbugness with the Christmas Season (see my Halloween post).


BUT there are a few things I love doing because I know the girls love doing it (and I'll admit I do enjoy it too, once I get it started). It's a tradition I started when they didn't even know what we were doing...and much to my surprise, the next year they remembered it. And every year when I think I can get out of it...hehehe...they remind me.


This is what it is...They LOVE decorating for Christmas and they LOVE baking for our neighbors and friends. For the decorating, they would do it in September, if I let them. They must have caught the Christmas Spirit from someone other than I. Many of you know the hilarious story last year of our decorating when they were determined beyond anything to get a christmas tree and decorate the minute we got back from the craziest and most stressful time that whole year...Hint: They unloaded my whole car of catering equipment, JUST so they could go get a tree. It's a funny story...remind me...I'll tell you sometime... :)


I usually go all out on the candy and desserts but this year they really just wanted to decorate sugar cookies and make peppermint brownies. GREAT with me. I still made some English Toffee and a few other things to add to it. My caramels were a disaster. I'll have to try again next year.


So, enjoy the little montage of pictures from some of our celebrations of the holiday season!


I love this nativity set...it's the one from when we were kids. Joseph's arm is broken, the cow's ear is gone...and I'm sure the middle wise man's head has been glued on umpteen times! But I love it. I know my mom bought new nativities for everyone last year, but I'm so happy with the one that she has given to me. I will cherish it forever. (Actually, I think she gave it to me out of guilt...not thinking how much I would love it...because she bought all the nativities, but accidentallly gave me a christmas town...which by the way...I LOVE too. I never thought I would love a little Christmas town, but I think I'm more like Nanette every day with the miniatures. And can you tell how much x&x love it? Check out their little set-up below with their furniture from their collectible doll house Nan found for them...I'll have to post on that another time.)The start of my christmas card collection. That whole door is now covered with Christmas cards.

Food Drive

Feeding the Needy

Our Girl Scout troop took part in a Food Drive at Safeway to help collect food for the needy. I'll be honest, when I heard the term "Food Drive" I imagined having to hit up all my friends and family AGAIN to donate to the Food Drive. However, they did it so differently here in Sierra Vista. They made little cards that had a list of what they needed and gave it to the customers as they were walking in. If they could buy it, great! If not, no big deal. That way the people could just add it to their grocery list.

I was astounded at how much food was collected in just the few hours we were there. I guess it was such a success last year with the Girl Scout troops, our local TV station wanted to be a part of it. So it made it even bigger this year and they had truckloads full of food. It was pretty amazing. I was really pleased we were able to be a part of this event.

Oh, and notice the little girl who has what looks like a hat made of turkey legs. Yup! That's what it is! We made those for Thanksgiving and the girls thought it would be fun to bring them to wear at the Food Drive. Hehe. I love the humor we have in our troop! We have a great time!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Pethel-Style Christmas

Ya, it's late. Sorry...I enjoyed my vacation WAY too much. I have no other excuse for not posting very much except that I literally "checked out" and just wasted oodles of time in Utah! :)


Christmas this year was WAY different than normal. Normally we all go to my parent's house and sleep over...then run down the stairs, open presents, etc., etc. This year, however, we decided to do Christmas in Utah since Brian's parents and sister are there, and the girls' dad just moved there.


So, since it was already going to be different, we decided to start our own traditions as to how the Brian and Christy Pethel Family do Christmas. First, we decided to open all our gifts to each other on Sunday night so that we wouldn't have to cart all their presents up there and back. Second, each person decided on something they thought would make the evening enjoyable and meaningful. So...here's how it went...


First, Brian got home Saturday December 20 from Germany.


On Sunday December 21, we had a beautiful dinner together as a family and then started a new way of celebrating....


Xanthe had us all read the Nativity Story from the scriptures while she placed each part of the nativity out as it was read. It was very sweet having us read the story together. We have read it so much in church and seen it in the movies. But reading it together as a family was just much different.




And then Xoe wrapped this box that we could take the lid on and off. She asked us all to write all the things that we were thankful for on little pieces of paper. When we were finished, I was pleasantly surprised that there were so many things people were thankful for. The box was almost full.
I was pretty impressed at the ideas the girls came up with as traditions. I'll be honest, I was a little afraid they would just fall back into the "open-one-present-on-Christmas-Eve"-type tradition. But they surprised me and came up with some very nice traditions for our little family.


Then we opened presents!!!! Here's how I did presents this year. I wrapped all of Xanthe's in one wrapping paper, and all of Xoe's in another. But I didn't tell them which one was theirs until I handed them an envelope with their type of wrapping paper in there.


I also then wrote numbers on each package (can you see them above?) so as they were opening their presents, their sister had to open the same one that had the same number. That way they were opening their presents together that were similar. They loved it. (And I realized as I was marking them with numbers...when I got to #4, that if I kept doing it in order, they would know how many presents they got and I didn't want to hear that whine at all this year. So, I started making up random numbers, like 263, and 4,362. They thought that was fun too.)
And by the way, please don't look at my sad excuse for Christmas Tree decorations. As most of you know, I used to decorate corporate Christmas trees every year...and I'm just SOOOO burnt out. I just let the girls put on whatever they wanted and I was totally cool with that.


Brian's presents were also in another wrapping paper. Can you see them all stacked up in the green paper with white writing in the background?


...Let the presents begin!
...This was their big present (picture below) of the season. And of course, Brian ordered it and had it arrive BEFORE he left for Germany a month before so that we were sure it would be here and he could try it out...in enough time to be able to order a new one if this didn't work. Talk about planning. Ya, he's just like that. Jealous? hehe.
...Spencer's first attempt at opening gifts. He kinda just stared at them, but had fun too.

Baby's First Christmas...Grandma Schultz gave him this hat and Muno doll. How cute is that! He wore it A LOT in Utah.
...Ahhhh, just what I was looking for...footed pajamas for older kids. The girls have been asking me for them for forever and I almost considered making them one time. (That idea quickly faded). But leave it up to Walmart, and only at Christmastime, to make Hannah Montana and High School Musical footed pajamas.
...Below is Ruth's (I mean, Ollie's) present to Xoe. Just as Ruth predicted, she was in LOVE. Especially with the shoes. Then of course to have a skirt that matches just made it even better. Like I said, she was in love. Of course, leave it up to Ruth to know JUST what to get her. :)

Well, this was our Christmas. We spent all day Monday, December 22, packing up (well, that's what I did...the girls spent their first day of Winter Break playing the Wii)...
And then left Tuesday, December 23 to drive the REALLY REALLY long drive to Utah. :) (It's long to me at least).