30 December 2010

White Elephant gone wrong

We've had a "tradition" for the last three years with some friends to do the dumbest white elephant possible. If you click on my friend Julianne's blog, you'll see what part of our contribution to the gift exchange was... (ours is beautifully modeled by Stephen) we also threw in some Freakin' Magical Unicorn Gum as well as some Bacon Lip Balm and Onion breath mints. Yum-O, right? BUT.... I do believe that I have not laughed at any gift as much as I laughed at the one I picked. My friend Ben was kind enough to do this for someone and lucky for me-- I won BIG time.

Yes, that's him giving my the classic thumbs up. I laughed until I cried. I also scored some meatball gum as well as an old Prince CD.

Here's to many more years of some GREAT memories at the White Elephant night.

14 December 2010

Building bears and visiting the man in the red suit

Before I could get to the mall, Laura took the kids so that Abigail could get a promised birthday present: Build-a-bear. Abigail had money left over from her grandparents to buy other birthday gifts for herself. Instead of buying other things, she went ahead and bought everyone of her siblings their own stuffed animal to build! All day, Abigail was very cognizant of her family, caring, and just a stand out day for Abigail's general attitude. What a great thing she did for her siblings.

We had a fabulous visit with Santa. Nearly every year, we've gone to the same mall (Valley Fair) to visit Santa. He was great this year. Collette beamed when she gave Santa her hand made heart card. Benjamin loved Santa and was excited to share his lap with Gabriel.

After a super time at Build-A-Bear and an exciting time with Santa, we headed over for some grub-- at the food court. The more children we have the more I actually enjoy a place where I don't mind if my kids get out of their seats and walk around and the people around us, generally, seem happy to smile at the 18 month old staring at their table of food. Sitting in restaurants with 4 kids is getting nearly impossible to do, much less enjoy. So, with 6 empty tummies we sat around eating pizza and just enjoying our families company. The whole night, which was mostly done as our FHE activity, was such a joy and fun had by all. All the kids were great and they were all so appreciative of the evening, well, maybe Gabe didn't vocalize it, but we know he had fun, too!

If not Hawaii, then Chuck E. Cheese

Night out with Benjamin, Laura asked him what he wanted to do. What else? He wanted to go to Hawaii. Why should Mom & Dad have all the fun. Laura explained that wasn't going to work for a night out. Benjamin, without missing a beat, said he wanted to go to Chuck E. Cheese if Hawaii wasn't on the list.

We had a great time. Ben was excited to get his own personal pan pizza. I had a sandwich, and I don't recommend ever getting fries from there.

We had our picture hand drawn by Chuck himself:

28 November 2010

Train around the house

A quiet Sunday with Laura and myself being sick. We mostly laid around, letting the kids watch movies, because neither of us had the energy to play. When the evening came, the kids definitely wanted to do something active. So, Laura encouraged me to get up and play with them a bit.

So, Laura and I took the kids on a train ride around the house. Laura and I were pulling them around on this blanket. They all laughed so hard at the fun they were having. It was hard not to enjoy it.

They continued the fun by spitting water at each other in the bath. Laura took some (gross) pictures. At least the kids are laughing when they get spit on.

27 November 2010


We're thankful for so many things, but most of all family. We have the greatest family. This Thanksgiving was both Abigail's and Jared's birthday. With Laura's parents and grandmother, we went to my parents for dinner. The kids had a fantastic time playing dress-up, flipping a beach ball around with Aunt Cyndi, and fanning their Aunt Kory.

Most of us ate too many appetizers to take full advantage of the rest of the meal. I'm thinking the way my family makes appetizers, we should start with them at lunch time to build the appetite for dinner. Just before dinner is way too close.

Ben's a fan of his Aunt Kory

Kids played dress up. There was some royalty and some servants. Someone asked if Julia was a princess, and she yelled "No! I'm a servant!" I don't think I've seen someone more defensive of their servitude. Probably most interesting was Lily's green wig.

We brought one of Abigail's cakes and sang happy birthday to her (and Jared).

And, we did the piƱata, which we never got to at her kid birthday party. This was one of the more fun events. The kids started cheering on whoever was at bat.

At the end of the evening, someone wanted to take a picture of all the children of my parents. I'm not sure whose idea it was (certainly, not Josh's). Here's a good one:

From Thanksgiving 2010

21 November 2010

Birthday Party for Abigail

Abigail soon turns seven. Laura gave her the option to have a small party so that she could take a few friends to a movie or other (costly) event. When Abigail started listing the friends and family, it was clear this wasn't going to be a small event. She listed more than 20 children to attend her party. And, I think we got close on attendance. Instead of having a late morning party as we usually have, Laura planned it to start at 4 pm. That worked out great, though. We were able to prepare all day for the party, perfecting the cakes. Laura wanted to try fondant for the first time.

This was the cake Laura decorated - Abigail saw this design in a magazine and really wanted it:

And, here's the one I did:

The kids came into the house where I was filing balloons from a rented helium tank. These balloons became a game into themselves. The kids had tons of fun running around with the balloons. Gabriel couldn't stop trying to grad every new balloon I was blowing up.

Laura had all sorts of games planned with prizes.

We started with a guess on jelly beans - number in the jar. First guesses included 15, 30, & even 20 (Abigail's). I stopped the game, counted a section of the jar to help calibrate the kids, and they made new guesses. Still, they were low-balling, but Julia got to take home the prize by guessing 120. There were 317. Here's Aya seeing if Laura has written down her guess with Alexa looking on:

Laura included a 'memory' contest - a quick showing of items on a platter, then having the kids write down what they remember. Aya & Alexa tied for remembering seven items correctly.

Also, there was a hunt for sticks of gum around the house. Truman took the prize with finding three sticks.

Finally, the last contest was the cookie and cupcake decorating. Jada is expertly applying the buttercream:

Everyone won a prize for their designs:

Laura decided to put a whole new 'spin' on an old party game: spin the bottle. Though, this game was to select in which order Abigail was to open presents.

Finally, my favorite pictures - Abigail getting her cake and, eventually, eating it too:

Happy Birthday Abigail!

And, kudos to Laura for planning such an amazing party that we all enjoyed. It was never too crazy, despite all the kids in the house. Laura did a lot to make this day special, and we're all very proud of all her preparation for this party.

18 November 2010

Bookstore & ice cream

Tonight, Abigail's request for night out with Dad was to go to the bookstore and then get ice cream.

Abigail was excited to purchase a bunch of books from the Magic Treehouse series of books. Her school library introduced her to the series, and she loves reading them. Much better than the school assigned decodables she's required to repeat reading five times in a row. So, I read her book #2 at the bookstore. And we purchased four others that had enticing covers.

After the bookstore we went to Coldstone to have a cone before coming back home. Successful night out!

06 November 2010

Daisy scouts: investiture

Last night, we attended Collette's investiture ceremony for Daisy scouts. This is the first meeting where she and the rest of the group was welcome to Girl Scouts for the first time. She was brimming with pride as she accepted her first patches of the year.

I don't think these pictures capture her excitement. Before the ceremony a group of girl scouts came in to sing 'repeat' songs with the Daisies. It was really neat to see the older girls get the younger ones involved in fun songs. First, she received her insignia pin, demonstrating that she was officially welcomed to Girl Scouts.

She was praised for her responsibility (receiving the orange petal) by bringing her plants to the meetings each week, showing their growth, and eventually planting them in a community garden. Her plants were the first to grow and ended up being the largest when they finally went into the ground. Also, she earned patches for the gardening with a little watering can. Other petals received were rose for making the world a better place and light blue for being honest and fair. She also, in front of the entire group, (quietly) recited the Girl Scout promise.

We're very proud of Collette's accomplishments, and her enthusiasm in the program. Today, she spent a few hours outside Jamba Juice selling cans of nuts. She practiced before hand what she would say to folks coming by the table. And, the leaders said she did a good job getting past her shyness by talking to others.

04 November 2010

Trick or Treating!

With all of the festivities going on, my kids were still constantly asking when is the REAL trick or treating going to happen? They were very excited about it. But, I have to say, for all the excitement, I was shocked how they were totally trick or treated out within an hour. I thought they were going to last a lot longer.

We went out with two other families and our kids had a great time together.

Here's the lot of them:

Meet our pumpkins (from left to right) Laura's, Ben's, Abigail's, and Collette's

Our front porch

The kids in action!

03 November 2010

Halloween mayhem

WARNING: Super picture heavy. Maybe a post only loved by grandparents

Holy Cow! I can barely catch my breath from all the activities we had going on for Halloween. I think it was like 7 activities in three days. It got very crazy around our house with all the costume changes.

The Saturday before Halloween our family went over to the pumpkin patch that my kids love the most. Because you get to hold baby chicks..that's all they cared about. I offered ALL kinds of fun, far away pumpkin patches but no. They wanted the one in a parking lot in front of a Sears. Here's a couple shots from there:

Just because I think this kid is pretty darn cute:

Here's Collette doing what she did for the entire time we were there. She stopped briefly to play some games with our family but went right back to the chicks. Yes, there is a chick in those hands of hers....

Abigail was pretty happy as well. She loved the time holding these little guys...And No, I have no idea who that other girl is in the picture. But she was in EVERY one of my pictures.

Ben thought the chicks/ducks were cool but much preferred the other "activities" at this parking lot pumpkin patch

We have some cute boys!

Thursday morning started the festivities with Ben's preschool parade/party. I, was already running crazy and forgot my camera. So...sorry Ben but we had a good time there!

Thursday afternoon was the Google Halloween party. It got a little crazier when our neighbor kids got locked out of their house. Their daughter is a great girl in sixth grade at Abigail and Collette's school and their son is in Abigail's class. So, I threw them in the car and we headed over to Google. Okay, so I don't have any pictures to show for this either...but it was a lot of fun and our kids and the neighbor kids had a blast.

Friday morning Collette had her kindergarten parade. I helped out in her class all morning so Joel showed up with Ben and Gabe and the CAMERA!

Here's Ben and Gabe waving to Collette as she parades around school

Here's Collette on the far right dressed up as the witch-- along with many other kindergarteners!

Then there was Abigail's parade later that day. And I did bring the camera but I can't find the pictures for it. I'll have to look harder but I don't think I got very good shots anyway...

Friday NIGHT was a family party. We had lots of soup and yummy rolls and we carved pumpkins. It was super fun!

Saturday morning was the school Halloween carnival. The kids had a great time. The had all kinds of games, a cash vault, and a cake walk which was a favorite of my kids. In the end, we only won one time. But look at that spread!

Gabe liked the basketball game. But the volunteers liked him and just kept giving him turns without tickets :)

Having a little lunch at the carnival. I love how Ben can't just smile...

Saturday night was our church party. The church party was fun but this is essentially what my boys did the whole time-- someone in our ward manages a Golf Land (miniature golf place) and brought a mini putting station. My kids were hooked!

I will be posting Trick or Treating pictures separately. For everyone's sake :)

31 October 2010

Happy Halloween! (Preview)

While, I'm sure we'll have more photos to share, I wanted to give you a sneak peak at our halloween kids. In order to get ready for the festivities, I chose a couple key photos to redo around the house. I wanted to see if anyone noticed them.

I also replaced our wedding photo. Since Laura is a fan of Twilight, I thought the theme would be obvious. One funny note on this photo. My mom, taking care of the kids while we were in Hawaii, mentioned to Abigail, "Wow, your mom is a vampire!" Abigail promptly responded, "No, she isn't. She's beautiful." Well, you can't argue with that.