Monday, December 31, 2012

I Love You, Juliana!

So, I go into the office to use my new laminator.  The Rabbit followed me (there's very little I can do without an audience, even if I go in the office!)  She was more than a little intrigued by the laminator. 

I have a long list of things to laminate (isn't it EXCITING???) but the first thing I did was a set of Latin flashcards to replace the ones Peanut chewed up. 

So I am writing "approprinquo, appropinquare, appropinquavi, appropinquatum" and such on little pieces of green paper and running them through the laminator and the Rabbit is dancing around singing and talking to the laminator, which she decided was named Juliana. 

After every sheet that came out she would say something like, "Oh, I LOVE you, laminator!"  or "Oh, Juliana, thank you!" 

And I totally agree.  Having a laminator is so cool.  And having a Rabbit is pretty cool too. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wintry Weather

It finally feels like winter here.  We did have some snow on Christmas day-- just enough to call it a white Christmas.  It quit snowing hours sooner than the forecast said it would; there were several hours where it was saying 80% chance of snow and there was nothing.  On the flip side, Friday we were told there was a 20% chance of snow and just as I was saying 'yeah, right!" I looked outside and it was snowing.  And it snowed for several hours.  But all told we only got a couple inches and it's mostly gone now.  Forgive my rambling about weather minutiae, it's just that I find the inaccuracy of Oklahoma weather forecasting extremely interesting. 

I also like the icicles that hang from my roofline.  They are a product of another Oklahoma quirk:  so many houses here don't have rain gutters on them, including mine.

We're supposed to have rain tomorrow, or maybe sleet, or maybe freezing rain, or maybe snow, or maybe nothing.  I shall be interested to see.
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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Baby's First Bath

We have a tradition that Dad gives the baby's first bath.  And Mom takes pictures. 

Isn't he beautiful?
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Christmas Dinner

This year we decided to do make-your-own pizza on Christmas day.  Everyone gets a pie tin with dough in it and they get to choose their own toppings.  The Badger made sure we had a lot of topping choices, and so everyone had a lot of fun with their pizza.  Perhaps this will be our new tradition.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I found these giant lollipops at a gift shop awhile back. I figured it would be fun to watch the kids' reaction. It sure was.


But they are also the ultimate spreader of stickiness, being large and taking so long to eat and not easily fitting in the mouth.  Sticky faces, sticky hands, sticky feet, sticky clothes, sticky couch...

Ah, well, what's a little stickiness?  It's Christmas, after all.
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For weeks now, Bean has had a plan.  Christmas morning he was going to snuggle up with his newborn baby brother on the couch while he opened his presents.  Finally the morning came.  Baby brother was happy to snuggle.  And the Badger snapped this absolutely perfect photo. 

Bean loves this little boy so much.  You should hear the way he talks about him, with so much tenderness and reverence and joy.  Having a baby brother means the world to Bean.  He does a great job taking care of him already and he can't wait to play with him and share with him and teach him as he grows.  I know they are going to be great friends, despite the eleven years between them.    
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Christmas Morning

Here we are lined up on the stairs, as is tradition...


Stockings!  My kids like to get plastic figures in their stockings.  This year I ordered a bunch of Safari brand figures from Rainbow Resource Center.  They were cheaper than Schleich brand, but not quite as high-quality.  The kids were happy though.

More stockings!  Yes, the Rabbit got a can of green olives.  It seemed appropriate somehow.

I LOVE this breakfast play food set!  So does Peanut!

Bean was hard to shop for this year.  He's growing up, and so he kept asking for things like a typewriter and a bathrobe.  I wanted to honor his budding maturity so I ended up getting the bathrobe, but I also got him Legos because I wanted to hang onto his childhood a little bit.  He had wishlisted them, but there won't be many more years where Legos are on his wishlist.  Sigh.

For Roo, a dressup and some pink Legos.  She's thrilled.

Fish was also easy.  Really easy.  

Rabbit got a dressup too-- I was so thrilled to find a modest Arabian princess outfit.  She was thrilled too, though not likely for the same reasons I was.

Peanut says "Hi!"

Okay, so the Badger did this.  His favorite present was a Safari plastic woolly mammoth.  I'm not kidding.  See why I married him?  So then he got this idea to take all the plastic figures we all received and arrange them for a photo.  He spent a long time making it look just right.  I love it!

Me, all I really needed for Christmas was baby snuggles.

However, I got even better than that.  I got a laminating matchine (can't believe I've been homeschooling this long without one!) and a copy of The Hiding Place which is one of my favorite books, and two movies I love which I will tell you about later.  Couldn't have been a better Christmas. 
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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

This wasn't a year for me to do a lot of fancy cooking, but the Badger decided to cook a turkey. He did it all: mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey, rolls, and mince meat pie. What a meal! What a Badger!

It was the baby's first Christmas and he had a cute little suit to prove it!

Bean took this nice picture of our tree during a rare moment when the star wasn't flopped over to the side.  

He also took this picture of my beautiful Rabbit...

Oh, how we love you, Rabbit!

While we ate our pie, I read aloud an essay entitled "The True Spirit of Christmas" by S. Michael Wilcox.  Then we acted out the Christmas story with our wonderful set of puppets my friend Julie made for us a few years ago.  Then we had family prayer, hung up our stockings and went to bed. 

The kids all slept in the boys' bedroom.  I'm not sure how long it took them to fall asleep, but I do know they were more wound up this year about it being Christmas Eve than they've ever been before.  On previous Christmas Eves my kids have bounced around for a bit, then fallen asleep and slept all the way through until the normal time they wake up in the morning.  But that is changing.  This morning at 4:45 I heard someone on the stairs while I was nursing the baby and when I went into the boys' room to investigate a few minutes later four excited little faces popped up and said "MERRY CHRISTMAS MOM!"  I said "go back to sleep!" and then they left us alone until 6:30.  
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Pumpkin Pie

We usually have a nice meal on December 23rd to honor the birthday of Joseph Smith. This year we had wild rice soup (a beloved delicacy from my childhood in Minnesota) and pumpkin pie. We never had any pumpkin pie around the house at Thanksgiving, so it was good to finally have some. The last time I made a pumpkin pie I didn't mix the filling enough and the pie had rubbery bits of egg white in it-- yuck! So this time I made the filling in my Vitamix blender. It was so utterly perfect. I'll be doing it that way from now on.


We love pumpkin pie!
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Surprises

I am so excited for tomorrow morning.  I can't wait to watch the kids' excitement as they open their gifts.  Money was a little tight this year, but I was able to get each of them something they wanted very much and I know they are going to be thrilled. 

I am also excited about something else I have kept as a complete surprise from them: the fact that it is going to snow tomorrow.  They have been talking about/hoping for/praying for a white Christmas for weeks (months?) and I've been telling them that the statistical odds are around 5%, so don't plan on it.  We only get a couple snowfalls a winter, what are the chances of it happening on Christmas? 

So I've been watching the development of this winter storm with great interest.  I can just imagine the children's glee tomorrow when the flakes start to fall.  We could get up to six inches, if you can believe that. 

It's going to be a wonderful day. 

At the same time, my prayers are with those who are not going to have a wonderful day tomorrow, for so many reasons.  I've been thinking about the homeless man on the roadside that I gave a couple bucks to this afternoon (and I'm glad I did give him at least a little something.)  He reminds me of a poem my dad used to read every year on Christmas Eve that would make me cry.  My dad is fond of the poetry of Robert Service, who wrote many poems set in Alaska, as this one is.

The Trapper's Christmas Eve

by Robert W. Service

It's mighty lonesome-like and drear.
Above the Wild the moon rides high,
And shows up sharp and needle-clear
The emptiness of earth and sky;
No happy homes with love a-glow;
No Santa Claus to make believe:
Just snow and snow, and then more snow;
It's Christmas Eve, it's Christmas Eve.

And here am I where all things end,
And Undesirables are hurled;
A poor old man without a friend,
Forgot and dead to all the world;
Clean out of sight and out of mind . . .
Well, maybe it is better so;
We all in life our level find,
And mine, I guess, is pretty low.

Yet as I sit with pipe alight
Beside the cabin-fire, it's queer
This mind of mine must take to-night
The backward trail of fifty year.
The school-house and the Christmas tree;
The children with their cheeks a-glow;
Two bright blue eyes that smile on me . . .
Just half a century ago.

Again (it's maybe forty years),
With faith and trust almost divine,
These same blue eyes, abrim with tears,
Through depths of love look into mine.
A parting, tender, soft and low,
With arms that cling and lips that cleave . . .
Ah me! it's all so long ago,
Yet seems so sweet this Christmas Eve.

Just thirty years ago, again . . .
We say a bitter, LAST good-bye;
Our lips are white with wrath and pain;
Our little children cling and cry.
Whose was the fault? it matters not,
For man and woman both deceive;
It's buried now and all forgot,
Forgiven, too, this Christmas Eve.

And she (God pity me) is dead;
Our children men and women grown.
I like to think that they are wed,
With little children of their own,
That crowd around their Christmas tree . . .
I would not ever have them grieve,
Or shed a single tear for me,
To mar their joy this Christmas Eve.

Stripped to the buff and gaunt and still
Lies all the land in grim distress.
Like lost soul wailing, long and shrill,
A wolf-howl cleaves the emptiness.
Then hushed as Death is everything.
The moon rides haggard and forlorn . . .
"O hark the herald angels sing!"
God bless all men -- it's Christmas morn.

A Monumental Photoshoot

Many years ago I got this brilliant idea to pose my kids as the nativity scene for our annual Christmas card photo.  I thought about it a lot and really got my heart set on it.  But there were so many factors involved and it didn't come together... year after year.  After we moved to Oklahoma we even had our very own stable, which made me even more eager. When Peanut was a newborn at Christmas time two years ago I wanted to do it so bad (even though she was a girl!) but again... too much work. 

And then this year... we had a brand new baby, and I don't think it's likely that we will ever have another brand new baby boy at this time of year.  I knew my shutter-happy sister was coming to visit and I knew that it was either now or regret it for the next fifty years. 

My sister was game (isn't she awesome???) and on a mild afternoon we hauled everyone out to the stable to make family history.  It turned out to be a dress rehearsal. 

The Rabbit was supposed to stand on top of the wood pile so she'd be above everyone, but she utterly refused to get up there. The hay for the goat was a great idea, except said goat wanted to stand on the hay bale with her head down, which was usually completely un-photogenic.  The chickens utterly refused to be in the picture, much to my dismay.  The pig was happy to be in many of them, but pork isn't Kosher.  The cat cooperated for awhile, but overall I wasn't in love with the photos.  The background ended up being too busy (there is a most un-Biblical air conditioning unit sprouting out of Bean's head, for one thing...)

I begged my sister to help me give it another try on another day, even though it was a ton of work. Bless her heart, she said yes.  We needed a more neutral location, and forget the animals: corraling six children is hard enough. 

So this is what we ended up with the second time:

I would have been very pleased with just that, but the Badger decided to be beyond wonderful and come be our goat wrangler.  With his expert help, we got this gem...

...which very much satisfied my long-time yearning and which will become a precious part of our family history.  (I can only imagine what that photo will mean to me in 20 or 30 years.) 

Here's a closeup I also loved...

Merry Christmas from Toad Hall!
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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Candy Cane Magic

Now that I'm a stodgy old grownup, Candy canes are a part of Christmas that I hardly even notice anymore.  And so it always surprises me what a powerful pull they have on children.  At our church Christmas party, the table centerpieces were simply containers full of candy canes.  And that's all the kids wanted.  They ate a little bit of food, but they weren't even very interested in the dessert table.  They were just obsessed with the candy canes.  My sister took a bunch of pictures of them.  These pictures are a good reminder to me of how small simple things make kids happy.  It's a good thing to remember, especially at Christmas time when we tend to want to always be doing bigger and better. 

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