The kids got up at about 7:30 this year. Santa puts presents on the couch at our house, right by each kid's stocking, so Stetson always acts surprised when there's no presents under the tree (besides the ones the kids give each other). This year and last I had to direct his attention to the couch... Stetson's favorite present was probably papa smurf (thank you wal-mart ship to store). Janelle's was a kitchen, Kandace got a ton of church dresses, a razor scooter, puzzles and books. The kids also got a Wii and games which will be way fun for them when Michael comes home and sets it up. He worked today.
Kandace modeling one of her dresses. Thank you Crazy 8s.
Stetson showing us some of his wii stuff.
We headed home about 9am, opened presents with dad, went to Asays for a delicious lunch and more presents and then went to Mike n Rachel's for treats and to watch the slide show DVD dad made for us this year. Probably the most priceless gift we could get.
Christmas Eve was...a little crazy for our family. :) Michael made gnocchi es which are an Asay family tradition on Christmas Eve. They turned out great. We kept forgetting stuff for it though and had to take a couple last minute trips. Its nice to have so many stores close by by kind of a double edged sword because if you remember something at the last minute thats not a necessity but something just want, you just go get it anyway and stand in line for WAY too long whereas if we were in Lovell we'd just deal with it. I decided at the last minute to take some Christmas cookies out to a couple families in our ward that had brought treats to us so that was a little messy and crazy but the kids had fun.
We went to Clemows for treats and to do the nativity. They have 3 kids like us but theirs are even younger so it makes for an interesting get together. :) We love Clemows and are grateful for their friendship
After Clemows we opened Christmas PJs which was so much more fun this year. Last year I told the kids on our way home from Asays Christmas Eve that they were going to get to open 1 present that night (I didn't include the fact that they would be PJS). So when Stetson opened his present last year and discovered it was clothes and not a toy, he was less than impressed and threw them on the floor. Michael had to work last year, too so it made it even less fun, but this year all 3 kids were thrilled about their PJS. Yay.
Michael was not a happy camper when he opened the box for Janelle's kitchen and discovered a gazillion parts/steps to putting it together. Whoops. We stayed up later that night than we've ever had to on Christmas Eve but it turned out super cute though and Janelle loves it.
Something that always seems to sneak up on me at the last minute are Christmas presents for the kids' teachers. I used to look for cute stuff on pinterest to do (since i'm so crafty baha) but I thought a hand written letter from the kids to their teacher is more meaningful than something I threw together in haste love off of pinterest. :) I had to take a pic of Stetson's note he wrote for Mrs. Paulson. We gave her Martinellies sparkling cider to go with it. This is what he said: "Dear Mrs. Paulson. Thank you for being a nice teacher. We got a gift for you. Write your guest of what its going to be please. Then he leaves a blank to insert her "guest" and then a bunch of lines to insert what she would like for Christmas. I know I'm biased, but this kid cracks me up and I think he's the greatest. :) Kandace wrote notes to her teachers which was a lot more time consuming since I had to tell her how to spell each word but turned out cute. Wish I'd taken a pic of hers, too. I truly am thankful for their school and church teachers. I know they word super hard.
Last night Michael and I decorated the basement with streamers and hung signs. We did it last year and Stetson remembered and kept asking us if we would "surprise" him like last year. When he woke up he opened his present from gma Asay and gma, gpa and Jared got to watch on skype. It was awesome. We love all the family support we get. After that Stetson had the breakfast of his choice (strawberry oatmeal and a crepe). After that he opened 2 birthday cards in the mail, one from gpa Simmons and one from Charlie and Donna. We took him to school, at 10 me, Michael and the girls brought smurf cupcakes over. We had to search high and low for smurf stickers to make these. Kmart pulled through for us. At 1 I went back to the school to help sort butterbraids for a fundraiser. I brought Stetson home after school and at home he did a scavenger hunt to find his bday present in the ...bathtub! Forgot to take a pic. He loves scavenger hunts. After that we decorated the papa smurf cake then headed to chuckey cheese where we met 2 of Stetson's friends from school, Brecken Waddell and Landon Greyn. After a couple hours of rip roarin fun at chuckey cheese we headed home and Steston and I delivered some butterbraids.
Some fun things about Stetson man:
*loves the smurfs
*loves to be silly
*loves to read and write. Especially loves drawing/writing games, riddles for Michael and I to do during sacrament
*loves to eat cereal and pours his own milk now :)
*has very good manners always remembering to say please and thank you
*has a funny sense of humor
*is always drilling us with math trivia. In the car, at home, at church. Kandace is starting to pick up on it and likes to tell us some of her own math facts
*loves to play with his best friend Landon
*loves to sing and really wants to learn more about music.
Steston we love you and are so proud of you. Happy 7th birthday!
Yesterday was the big day. We finally got Janelle's room textured. Michael mixed the mud in the garage, brought it in and away we went. We like it for the most part. It was SO messy. Mud splattering everywhere so I was constantly wiping it off the walls (we're probably painting them eventually anyway). Michael rolled the mud and I went behind him texturing with our little texture tool I guess you could call it. Its kind of like a brush with long bristles. I want to do thicker mud next time and see how we like that.
Our ward Christmas party was tonight. We have the greatest YW in our ward. At every church function they always come find our kids and play with them the whole time. Its like having built in baby-sitters. Love it. Funny story about Kandace's dress. She's been wanting to wear it to church but Michael didn't think it was church appropriate so we told her she could wear it to the ward Christmas party so she was super excited about it and kept asking us if it was time to go put on her dress. As soon as Kandace put hers on, Janelle quickly observed and told me "tights, me mommy. dress. me mommy." :) Her vocab has taken off the last couple months and it is so much fun. So Michael got her a dress and tights and as they were walking downstairs to put them on, she said " hurry daddy, hurry." Michael and I looked at each other and laughed. As I was laying Janelle down I was so filled with gratitude for this beautiful girl and for what she brings to our lives. I am so blessed and lucky and don't take enough time to slow down and realized the amazing blessings my children are. I have so many flaws and wish I was a better mom but my kids still love me and show me unconditional love and I'm grateful for each and every day I get to try again and be better. Upward and onward.
All Stetson wants for Christmas is papa smurf, phew, that should be easy. Kandace hasn't really told us yet.
Last Sunday was our tithing settlement. I remember when I was little, dad would ask me at the end of the year how much money I thought I'd made. I remember always guessing about $100 so I'd pay my $10 to the bishop. I remember loving watching the bishop count the money and write it out on my slip and ask me if I was a full tithe payer. We had the kids dump out the piggy banks and count all their money so they could determine how much they owed to the bishop. When Michael got paystubs int he mail from work I would pay our tithing but since they changed it so its all electronic he just does it and I miss it. I have such a strong testimony of tithing. Heavenly Father has always blessed us with what we need and its such a blessing for us to be able to to pay it and show our obedience and love for him. Stetson pitched a little fit that night at the church because he didn't get to fill out his tithing slip. We felt bad about that but life isn't perfect. Me and him went and watched the general Christmas devotional broadcast at the stake center afterwards. I loved it. I'll take any chance I can get to feel the spirit during this hectic holiday season and think about Jesus Christ and his birth.
"Happiness is the object and design of our existence." Joseph Smith
I have really fond memories of driving around Northern California listening to George Winston in my dad's old getta. He is a concert pianist and his music is absolutely beautiful. He was born and raised in Billings actually and a lot of his songs are inspired by seasons. Dad said there was a guy over at his shop with some models doing a photography session for California Prom Designs like in the '80s and the photographer had some music playing and dad said he loved and and asked the guy who he had playing and so dad went out and bought him some George Winston tapes and we've been hooked ever since.
George Winston actually came to BYU-I when I was attending and I went to see him and got my picture taken with him. So all this leads me to last Friday night when Joel, Kambrie, Dad, Brenda, Michael and I all went to a George Winston concert in Billings at the Alberta Bair Theatre. I loved it. I hadn't listened to his music for a long time and it was a totally nostalgic experience to hear it all again. And so calming and enjoyable. Made me think about talents and how Heavenly Father blesses us with them to enrich the lives of others. I feel closer to God when I get to partake of someone's talents like I did that night. So awesome. George Winston you rock.
First of all, I have to say that even though these posts look like Michael is the only one having any fun with the popcorn ceiling madness, he in fact was not. I scraped just as much off as he did. Anyway, Michael gets the month of Dec. off of school so I've been putting him to work and getting him all to myself and have been loving it. I love having a schedule and having plans and getting things done and that's just what we've been doing. The top pic is Michael scraping off the popcorn ceiling from the hallway upstairs. It only took us about a 1/2 hr with both of us going at it. We bought another tarp and you can see we taped it over the stairs so all the dust wouldn't go downstairs. Michael's idea..he's clever like that. The last pic is after we finished the master bdrm. Michael is a lot more attractive with popcorn ceiling dust all over his face than I am. So we're officially done scraping and now we're moving onto texture and paint! I wanted to do something more dramatic as far as texture but we're inexperienced so we're using a simple texture brush. Hopefully we won't mess it up too bad. We went to Lowes a couple days ago and got our supplies. Michael stopped at Harbor Freight (his favorite store) and got more supplies. We plan on taping Janelle's room Saturday and texturing Monday. He has to go back to work in Powell next Tue and will be gone the rest of the week so we gotta hurry and pack all this fun in while we can! :) I'm excited to get the texturing done and then paint. I think a fresh coat of paint will really improve the look of things upstairs. Crown molding is also on my list.
Michael and I enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner at Asays so much that we decided to try our first attempt at making our own, mostly so we could enjoy the leftovers all week! :) I got this bird from Eleutians when I worked for them like 3 years ago but it was still very good. We used a recipe in my better homes n gardens cookbook for old fashioned stuffing and it was pretty good. Next time we'll use smaller bread crumbs and add more broth for a more moist stuffing. We had spinach salad, rolls, yams fried in butter and brown sugar and mashed potatoes. It was very good, and Kandace got to use her Thanksgiving placemat she made at preschool that she forgot to take to gma Asays.
I discovered online last night that Billings has a Christmas kickoff parade every year in downtown Billings, so we scarfed down our homemade deep dish pizza not really sure if we'd get a parking spot and headed to the parade! We got a great spot at the YMCA parking lot and started following the crowds to the parade! They were serving hot chocolate which we drank while we waited. It was 59 in Billings all day so the weather was quite pleasant at the parade, too. The kids loved it and got lots of candy.
This could be viewed as a very insignificant post to some, but to a mom whose now potty trained 3 kids, it has to be documented. lol Really though, when I was in the first week of potty training Janelle and not having much luck, I was desperately searching for old blog posts about potty training with the other kids looking for helpful hints or just some glimmer of hope because it was not going great.
When Kandace was 20 mos she went pee on the potty and I thought for sure potty training would be a cinch with her, but I learned the hard way that just because they'll GO, doesn't mean they're ready to be potty trained. At least that was our experience with Kandace. She was just too young, and it took 4 months of torture until she was 100%. I was too stubborn to put her in a pullup and definitely didn't want to put her back in a diaper because I wasn't giving up.
Well we started potty training Janelle about a month ago. I was driving home from zoo montana to get my bountiful basket and realized we were totally out of diapers, and we'd just been to COSTCO the day before. Ugh. So I thought "why not just potty train her now?!" She is 29 months and had been showing lots of interest for a couple months but I was not ready to go down the potty training road again. No way. So I decided she was old enough did it the way I've done it with all 3, using the doll/underwear/drink that they suggest in "Pottwise" which is written by the same pediatricians who wrote "babywise." It was all really last minute and kind of frantic since all 3 kids were home and it wasn't planned. Michael was super helpful and Janelle was really interested, especially after the doll peed in the toilet (we put water with yellow food coloring in the potty for dramatic effect) lol. But the book says to put a HUGE emphasis on teaching your child to not just go pee/poo but to stay dry. You're supposed to reward them for just staying dry, which means you ask them periodically if they're dry and them reward them if they are. Its exhausting, so I sort of did the "modified" version of the recommended procedure. I always get my hopes up too and think they'll be getting it that same day, which the books suggests a lot of kids do if you do it right. So of course when she peed 5 pairs of underwear that day I felt like a failure and in the next couple days we decided to go back to diapers and wait a few more months. Well she actually started going pee and poo more often and is having less and less accidents. It has definitely been a gradual process. Thanksgiving day she didn't have any accidents and stayed in her "honeys" (undies) all day, even on the car ride home. I'm knocking on wood that things continue this way and counting my blessings that its going so well, because after doing this 3 times my only advice is to stay calm, be consistent and expect lots of accidents.
My picture taking was less than par this year so I stole the bottom one from Jill's blog and the top one was taken right before we took off after a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at Michael's parents' house. Jan is a wonderful cook and we always feel so welcome and at home. We left Billings Wednesday afternoon, got to Asays about 5, had a birthday dinner and dessert for Stan, stayed the night there, had Thanksgiving dinner with Asays and then went to say hi to my fam in the afternoon before we headed back to Billings so Michael could keep studying for some big tests coming up next week. He gets done on Tue and I'm pumped. We have a long list of house projects that I know I would love to do (can't speak for Michael) but we have at least a couple we want to do in December since he has that month off of school. I have so much to be thankful for. We talked about Thanksgiving at FHE last Monday and it was one of the first times this month I really contemplated all that I'm thankful for. Thanksgiving is awesome because it makes us reflect on everything Heavenly Father has blessed us with. We talked about how its so easy to always want more and think we don't have everything we need/deserve but really and truly, I know I have been so blessed. I am most grateful for my husband who is a worthy priesthood holder who honors his family and his faith and works so hard for us. I am so proud to be his wife. He is working so hard at school and is determined to be successful and has been so far. I am thankful for 3 beautiful, healthy children. They teach us so much about being patient and depending on Heavenly Father.
Last week Stetson's school had a "family fun night" at the reef. Part of the proceeds go to the PTA to help raise money for new playground equipment. The bottom pic is Janelle and Carly. Carly's is a 6th grader at Stetson's school and her dad is our bishop and she babysits for us sometimes. She has 3 older sisters and they are the greatest. I also visit teach her mom. After swimming at the reef, me Shannon went to see the Hunger games movie at 11:30pm. I know, I'm such a party animal. It was such a good movie, I wish I'd read the 2nd book so I could have understood better what was going on, but still such a good movie (and I wish we'd gone to the 8pm showing)
I've been scraping popcorn ceiling off of Janelle's room. Its not as bad as I thought but still a lot of work. I got a blister on my hand from scraping. Janelle's room is done now onto the master bedroom and hallway. I would love to re-texture and paint all these rooms once we get the popcorn scraped off. Projects are fun. And stressful. I hope I don't get cancer from asbestos.
Stetson cracks me up. He was busy writing away the other night and then gave me this card that says the following: Hey mom it alredy bin Janery Febery March Apir May June July Agest Sectember October. Now it is November so it is close to crismise and thanksgiving. Happy Holadays!!!!!!!!!!! At the bottom he included a pic of the family, you can tell which kid is which because they have the first letter of their name on their shirt. I'm looking quite large as well. Hmmm...Stetson says we're in a parade and thats why it says "POP" above Michael (the balloon went pop). He thinks Christmas is spelled crimise. Have to work on his spelling I guess. On the back he put a pic of some pilgrims and Indians having dinner together. You can tell the Indian (hopefully male Indian) is topless because Stetson made a huge bellybutton. He is such a jokester and so fun. His teacher recently sent me an email telling me how much she enjoys having him in class and that he's such a good kid. I think so too.
Michael and I got to go to the temple finally tonight. We hadn't been for about a month with temple cleanings. When we got home I found about an inch long piece of Kandace's hair in the garbage can upstairs. Not cool. I think that wraps up this post. :)