Michael told the kids that on Christmas morning they had to yell his name from the bottom of the stairs before they could come up so at 7(?) we heard a yell and so we woke up Janelle and Stahle and had Christmas! Janelle got a doll house that I thought would be her favorite present, but she could NOT stop talking about the lunch box she got. Her friend, Everly, at preschool has one that she takes (because she has allergies and can't have the school snack) and ever since, Janelle has wanted one. She cried when I told her she couldn't take it to preschool today. But I will pack her child watch lunch in it and bring it at noon today while I got to bootcamp.
Everyone was really happy with their presents, Stetson's main thing he'd wanted was "I love that minifigure" book that talks about legos. He got a scooby doo lego kit that he put together in no time flat. During Christmas break I told the kids they could each have a day where they could choose something fun to do (mall, library, sledding, etc) and Stetson chose to take his scooby doo lego kit apart and have me help him rebuild it. Oh joy. :) So thats what we did! Kandace chose to have her nails painted and we haven't done Janelle's day yet.
After all the hoopla, we went to Mike and Rachel's where they were skyping with Cannon, then to dads where the kids opened their present (headbandz) from him, then we headed to Asays for more presents and a delicious dinner.
Landon and Kandace peeling the pomegranets, which is one of Kandace's favorite things to do since she's such a fruit fanantic. What a mess!
Here's dad and Stahle Christmas morning. Can't remember what was so funny. :)
Kandace and Janelle opening their Christmas pjs that Kandace had already ripped little holes in the wrapping paper about a week prior to because apparently she just couldn't help herself. I stopped putting presents under the tree after that. December is always hectic for me even though I start in November, I'm like the tortoise, steady and slow, here a little, there a little, but always doing stuff (shopping, baking, wrapping, etc.) I always think I'll get it all done early in December and have the rest of the month to enjoy the season but I'm usually working up until the end. We did mini creamy banana bread loafs to take the friends this year. It was simple, easy and worked out really well. One batch ended up making 5 little loaves, so we'd do a batch, deliver, wait a couple days, do another batch, deliver, and so on. I don't love baking so I try to break it up.
Christmas Eve was nice. We miss the traditional gnoccies at Grandma Asays and even tried to make them one year (well Michael did) and they were good but it made so much and so we've tried different things. Last year we did a cafe rio copy cat recipe of sweet pork tacos, this year we did a pork loin roast with a caramelized sauce with seasoned potatoes, spinach salad, garlic bread and sparkling cider. It was really good and it was a wonderful feeling to spend Christmas Eve with my family. Michael spent 4 hours between Wed and Thur night putting together a doll house for Janelle in the freezing cold garage. I sure love that guy. He is a trooper.
For the last few months, Tuesday nights have been totally nuts. 5:30 Stetson and I leave for scouts, then I take him with me to stake choir straight after in the monad chapel, and Michael takes Kandace to bball practice at the Y. Kandace's games were on Saturdays but I only got to see a few of them since I had music stuff. Kandace really liked playing!! She's not overly aggressive but she wants to be good and she tries hard. She is really good at defense, sticking to her man like glue, so much that she's oblvious to anything else going on on the court. She's going to play again in January.
It started with "dirt cups" that Janelle and I made from a pinterest recipe we found that turned out good. Melinda came over to babysit while I made the special delivery to school. Stetson was super excited to get to share treats with his class.
Stetson originally wanted to just go to gpa Simmons (like last year) or gma Asays to have cake and open presents but we talked him into the reef. He invited Aiden Mckenna, Dexter and Hank French, Cody B. and Brecken Waddell.
Everyone had a blast! Including mom! I went down the big slide in the double tube with Kandace about 4 times and twice with Stetson. Stetson got lots of fun stuff, his favorite probably being a lego kit (double decker couch) from the lego movie.
At 9 years old, Stetson
*is still one of the best breakfast eaters I know
*loves to carry Stahle, buckle/unbuckle her from the car and is really a big help in fetching me diapers, pjs, etc
*loves math trivia and is always quizzing mom, dad and anyone else
*likes 3rd grade with Mrs. Riehl and is doing really well in all subjects
December 14 we got totally dumped on so we got a call that night from the school district that we would be having a snow day (first one for Billings in 27 years). I was surprised because we've had crazy winter weather before and I mean really crazy winter weather in terms of temps and quantity of snow and it never snowed anyone down.
I'm never quite ready for all my kids to be home from school it seems like. Its always a struggle finding stuff to keep them busy and happy. Going out and doing things seems like a great solution but Stahle still takes a morning and afternoon nap so that puts a kink in our schedule.
On this day, we bundled up, made snow angles and Henry and Melinda came over for a little bit, too. Other than that, we stayed in all day.
A couple weeks ago we went to Michael's work and had lunch at Subway which is in the same building he works in. We also met Barb and Liz. Barb is a medical assistant who works with Michael and Liz is the other PA. Below is Michael's very own office, which includes his very own bathroom. Michael's job is going really well. He seems to be gaining more confidence as times goes on which makes it more enjoyable for him. Working in GI wasn't ever a dream job/destination for him but we are grateful he got hired so quickly especially right out of school and this will be a good starting point for him to give him the experience he needs to beef up his resume and prepare him for jobs in the future.
Its always a pleasure to go to Michael's work and meet the people he works with. He is so easy to get along with and people seem to like him. He said that only after about 5 days of working there, everyone had it figured out that he was Mormon. He says he can't quite figure out how he gives it away so easily. :) I think I know.
This year we had Thanksgiving in Cowley. We had Mike and Rachel and their family, Todd and Emily (hosted)and their family, Morgan and Fallon and their kids, Dick, Rhonda, Dad, Brenda, Marguerite and some extra friends from Cowley that Todd invited.
We were pleasantly surprised when Stahle let Grandpa Simmons hold her for quite a while. She loves to rub my eyebrows and suck her thumb so what is what she is doing to grandpa Simmons here. Silly girl
That night we drove to Asays and spent the night so Michael could help work cows the next morning.
One of the first things we did when we bought this condo almost 3 years ago was have someone fix the stair so our kids couldn't fall through. We had a guy come and he put 3 big boards vertically behind the steps to close the gap which made it safe but not pretty. It was my fault because when he came over for the consult, we must have had a misunderstanding and I wasn't paying attention when he said what he was going to do. So end of November we called Rick Dvorak and he came and put backs behind the steps, Sheetrock underneath and he mudded and textured the back so all we have to do is carpet and paint. He did a great job, he was awesome to work with, he even let me help with a lot of if which was great because it ended up saving us a lot of money.
Ramie Edwards in Lovell took some family pictures for us on Grandma Dorothy's farm. It was a hot day and pretty frantic trying to get everyone dressed and cooperative, but we got some good ones I think.
Last weekend was our first concert for the Billings Symphony Chorale. They do 2 big concerts a year, spring and fall. This one was called "A time of Grace." It was $17/ticket or $27 for reserved. Dad, Brenda, Stan, Jan, Steven and Melinda came. It was fun to get to share this beautiful music with others. My 3 favorites were "How can I keep from Singing" "My Song in the Night" and "Grace Before Sleep." I loved the gorgeous violin and oboe duet at the beginning of "How can I Keep from singing?" and I loved the words and music in "My Song in in the Night." "Oh why should I wander an alien from thee, or cry in the desert thy face to see. My comfort and joy my soul's delight..." are just a few of my favorite phrases. That was probably my favorite song we sang. A lot of the pieces were new to me so it was a treat to get to learn and sing them with a choral group of this kind of caliber.
I sit between Nancy and Kathleen, Kathleen is a nun actually and it was fun to get to know her and hear her take on things. Nancy is a retired teacher who lived in Powell apparently. She was one of the best altos in the group, featured in one of the Mozart solos actually. Early in rehearsals, Steven (conductor) wanted a small group of soloists to go down to the front and sing the quartets when we did the Mozart pieces so the choir would get an idea of how it would sound. Nancy encouraged me to go down with her, and when it got closer to the time of the concert when I knew he'd be having official auditions for the solos, I spent a lot of time on u-tube listening to the 2 Mozart pieces we did, trying to learn the solos really well, and I tried out and got to sing the solo in Veni Sancte Spiritus which translates to come holy spirit; fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle the fire of your love in them. Steven had us translate it on our own at home and it was fun to get to see what we were actually singing and realizing that these long time, well known classical pieces are praises to God and talk about things I've believed in since I was a little girl. As far as I can tell, everyone in the group is religious and its been neat to hear everyone's take on the music and what it means to them. I am grateful for this little experience in my life that brings music back to my life. I am also grateful for Michael since I couldn't do any of this without him. I'm grateful for a job that makes it possible for him to be home evenings and for his willingness to pitch in with the kids during rehearsals and performances.
The kids are starting to remember this every year and start asking about it mid October, so I made invitations and a menu for our feast this year, which included mummy dogs, witches brew (chili) spider eggs, pudding, vampire ghosts and vampire punch.
Steven and Melinda holsted a super fun halloween party this year! Stahle wasn't feeling well so Michael stayed home with her while the rest of us partied. Pictured above is me, Melinda and Cathy. Yay for friends and Halloween parties. Oh, and Janelle puked all over Melinda's kitchen floor right before we went home. Winning.
Northwest college hosted at art show for dad in October. Kandace and I drove down to see his lights, listen to him give a short presentation and show our support!! There are so many incredible stories to go along with these lights, I'll share a couple. I asked dad to record all these stories so I can have a copy. Anyway, dad started as an Industrial design major in college, but then decided on art (I can't remember what made him switch?) but he tells the story of what a failure he started out as in his art classes. He says he didn't do well with any of the projects they were doing, he hated getting "messy" which is what a lot of art projects are. He says when the class would complete an art assignment, they'd all put their "masterpieces" on the chalk board and the professor would go down the line critiquing the art work and would flick the bad ones to the floor and step on them. Dad says his always ended up on the floor, until one day the class was assigned a project using paper. Dad went home and came up with something pretty cool, and when he brought it to class, his teacher said, "Roland, I think you've got something here" and he told dad he could spend the rest of the semester working on his paper projects and years and years later, dad has a successful, world wide business called Interfold that has helped support him and his family. I'll just say that I've always been impressed how dad always includes Heavenly Father in the whole process. Dad has always acknowledged Heavenly Father in helping him to be successful and to be able to support his family.
Not sure how to caption this picture. It could be, "I love my boy" "branch turns into tree" "we love fall in Billings" or "Stetson is funny." They would all fit perfectly. Up until a couple weeks ago, we were spending our Tuesday afternoons at veterans park during piano lessons, since the teacher just lives a couple blocks away, so I'd drop Stetson off at piano, me and the girls would go play, 30 mins later, we'd drop Kandace off and come back for more play. The weather has been so beautiful and I've loved it.
The girls love the tire swing..well except Stahle. She does not love swings of any kind. Even just a gentle push makes her grab onto the front for dear life with a look of terror. So funny.
Ever since moving to Billings and hearing about Mystic Lake, I've wanted to hike to it but I'd heard it might be a little much for the little kids. but since getting our nice hiking backpack, and feeling rather ambitious or just crazy, we decided to go for it. I'll just say it, I am the illogical, crazy one in our marriage, while Michael is usually the voice of reason and logic, but I'm glad he got on board with this trip. We got lost on the drive up, it was really windy, (which people coming down warned us about) and we got a late start but we made it and the wind wasn't so bad and the view was stunning.
Don't be fooled by this angelic face . She had just got done crying 3/4 of the way down. This was the very end of the hike and Michael told her to pick a flower for me. She sure is cute