Christmas Eve

With a sign by Ansel and an United States cookie with the name S. Claus on it as dictated by Ollie, our fireplace is ready for Santa's arrival. Our discussion while preparing this spread included these gems:

Oliver: How many carrots should we put out for nine reindeer?

Ansel: Let's only put out two cookies for Santa. 
Oliver: How about eight?
Me: How about we compromise and put out four?

Ansel: I want Santa to see my cotton ball Santa beard!
Me: Put it by the fireplace for him to see it!

And as we are going to bed,
Oliver: What about a glass of milk?
And with that Ollie poured a glass and placed it next to the cookies and the kids were off to bed. 

And Ian, well, he was dreaming of sugar plums while this all went down. But here he is enjoying the snow in an oversized coat. 

Merry Christmas everyone!


May your days be Merry and Bright

These days I find myself exhausted by the day by day. But it's a good exhausted and I love seeing my eight year old come up with original riddles, my four year old run to get the mail, and my one year old walk fast with his arms trailing behind him. 

My days are merry and bright as we fill the house with Christmas music and twinkling lights and smells of delicious stuff.  But it's also good when I fold the laundry and take out the trash and sweep the floor.  The day by day is a blessing and I'm sincerely grateful for it. 


M.C. Escher

We recently visited an art show featuring M.C. Escher. The gallery had an automated piano playing music that he listened to while creating many of the pieces they had on display. Ansel and Ian may not have loved the experience as much as the rest of us, but hey, you've got to start them young!

Escher' stuff is inspiring Oliver's drawings as of late, so it was neat to see his works up close. 


Sunday naps

The other day a woman at church saw Jess holding Ian like this and said, "Wow, if only my baby would be that peaceful and sleep like that. That's amazing." That's when I told her he's actually so tired that he had nothing left in him and he just had to give into sleep. Weekend schedules can be rough on a 15 month old youngest of three. 


Christmas month

Yesterday Ansel turned the calendar to December and yelled, "its Christmas!" I had to explain that Christmas wasn't for another 24 days, but we sure could have the Christmas spirit for the whole month. Our Christmas celebrating began with a hike, that's right, a hike up to the coolest suspension bridge between two valleys. The kids walked the hike without complaint and it wasn't one for sissies. 

Ian loved walking on the bridge. Jess looked at the photo and said, "Look at me in the back, being the worried Dad." It was totally safe but something makes you nervous when a bridge wobbles a tad. 

And here's our family up top. Oliver is going to question his face in this one when he's 21. But as an 8 year-old, he thought it was hilarious. 

Before that though, we had a great Thanksgiving! Jess and I had a chance to prep a whole meal and it was fun to tag team it with him. He made some killer stuffing that I said must become a tradition. The boys pulled at the wishbone. 

And Ian got his first haircut. It was a bittersweet moment, but very necessary. 

Back to Decmber. We had a chance to visit the Festival of Trees. The place is getting busier by the year, and it's all in the name of charity. Ansel wanted desperately to talk to an elf in the kid area, so after waiting about 20 minutes in line he had what looked like a conversation with one of Santa's helpers. When he came out of the phone booth I asked him what the elf said. "I don't really know, he replied, "I could really hear him." And there you have it. 

Oliver is practicing the Christmas Carol in his 3rd grade class. He said he loved listening to the story. I asked how the teacher cast the play. "We each wrote down three parts we wanted," he explained. I asked him to tell me what he wrote down. "The ghost of Christmas future, the kid at the end who Scrooge asks to get a big goose for the Christmas meal, and the young Scrooge during the part where he sees himself in the past." "What does that young Scrooge do in the play?" I asked, I couldn't remember. "He just sits there," Oliver answered. I laughed, "So I see you didn't want any parts that had a lot of talking," "That's right," he confirmed, "it's too embarrassing." His response took me back to the Shakespearean play I was in as a 5th or 6th grader. I had a total of two lines and that was all I needed. 

We visited downtown and tried out the "giving" vending machine. My kids loved the idea and ended up giving some of their hard earned, I mean, gifted cash for the cause. And how in the world did Ollie get so tall?  

We also walked around Temple Square in the daylight which was neat enough and I liked beating the cold. 

What a wonderful time of year! And you can guarantee that we listened to The Osmond's Christmas album on the way home. Jess and I might have even laughingly harmonized in our best Donny and Marie strained voices as our kids joined in singing "Sleigh Ride." My mom is looking down from heaven giving a fist pump for sure. 



The other day I was talking with a friend and I said, "He wanted to make sure he didn't break any bridges." I quickly followed that up with, "That isn't right. What is the saying?" My friend kindly corrected my blinder, "Burn any bridges." 

I need to read more or get more sleep or both. 


Quick, photo op!

I was swiping through photos on my phone this morning to clear up some space and I came upon the one you see here. It isn't a great shot and it was taken at the least opportune time. These days we don't see a lot of this type of photo because we quickly delete them for the better iteration of the shot. But sometimes there is goodness in the details of a poorly-timed photo. This is the stuff that was occasionally captured when we used film cameras and didn't know how the photo would turn out until picking up the developed roll at the photo lab. In this one you'll see Ollie just moments after receiving his Bobcat in Cub scouts. Previous to the photo, the pack master (or is it Cub scout master, gah!?!) said "Now's the time for a photo op." Of course, that's when I began my trek across the room, carrying baby Ian, to grab the phone out of my bag. This took only seconds, but by the time I had my camera ready and was balancing a babe on my hip, the photo op was over and this is what I got (plus the other kids I cropped out of the photo for privacy sake). My favorite part though, the best part of this picture, is Jess' look. He's the only one looking in my direction. He probably watched me retrieve my camera and thought I didn't have a chance to get much of a photo.   But he's smiling. And he's waiting. And he knows the photo is going to stink (I mean look at that smile!) but he's there and letting me try. As I looked at this photo my inclination was to delete. Instead, this morning it made me stop and remember all of the reasons I have to be thankful for this man. His patience, his love, his ability to make our family's lives just the best. 

And as a side note, Oliver is finishing up the "Bobcat blood" they gave the kids to drink for receiving the award. I've just been asked to lead the Wolves Cub scouts and all of this stuff is new to me. Bobcat blood traditions and all! Here's to learning. 


These moments

The other night Jess snapped this photo of the boys and me enjoying our newly efficient fireplace. Ollie and Ansel had just finished a shower and were getting toasty.   

Love these moments. 


Fall is fantastic!

Ollie, Ansel, and pals enjoyed the leaves this afternoon. 



Um, when did you become this big?

Ian is walking around like he owns the place these days. 

We are in the every-drawer-will-be-emptied-by-sundown phase with this 14 month old.

He loves to talk. Listening to him say "ow" and "cheese" (which is LOVES) is the best. He loves to dance and can't get enough of "Ghostbusters!"

I can't bear to think of cutting his hair. It is getting very long but the bit of curl that exists is something I just can't part with. 

Baby E is thee best. 


Pumpkin patch-ing

There's something wonderful about a pumpkin patch. 

We went right before dinner and enjoyed the heavy sun. 

We started getting hungry but charged ahead and picked a pumpkin each. 

Orange pumpkin for mom & dad, white for Ollie, white/orange for Ansel, and a mini orange one for Ian. Perfect for the doorstep!


Age four is hilarious

I love every age and every stage. I must admit I'm very nervous about my kids' teen years. I've really got to figure out some good hobbies to keep me sane during those years. But right now, my kids are doing some awesome things at their respective ages. 

My four year old is no exception. He comes up with some great material. His latest. 

"Mom, this is part of my Halloween costume."

And he likes to play card games, specifically war. The other day he dealt out the cards. He had his pile and I had mine. As luck would have it my hand looked like this:

I explained to Ansel that we call this type of dealing cheating, to which he replied, "but mom, I want to win!"

He loves to dress up. My sister has one of the biggest dress up collections and Ansel always comes up with some good combinations. Always with a nerf gun in his hand. 


You've been Booed

You know what's just a tad bit difficult? Trying to "Boo" families in our neighborhood when many homes are equipped with door cameras.

In other October news, some of my kids are getting very excited for Halloween. 

And did I mention this babe's walking now? He loves his newfound way of travel. 

This baby is so fun to watch grow. 



The other night I broiled some salmon and we had a delicious dinner. Then we all rushed to parent teacher conference to meet Ollie's teacher. Jess met us there. It was a nice meeting. As we left the school Jess said to me, "Did you guys have fish for dinner?" He had come straight from work and wasn't privy to what we'd consumed. "Yep," I responded, realizing that we'd filled up that teacher's room with the aroma of the Atlantic. "Because Ian smells like he's been smoked with it," Jess added, "and you have some pepper stuck in your teeth."

I'm pretty sure I made a great impression on Oliver's teacher. 


A quick trip

A while back I noticed a killer deal on nonstop flights to Burbank, CA. I wanted to experience some nostalgia, take my kids on an adventure, and let them enjoy a plane ride.  I bought the tickets and the planning followed. Sometimes it's good to be a little spontaneous. Our trip was wonderful and one I will always remember. 

We arrived early the first day and visited the Griffith Observatory. This was really cool! We could have spent longer here had we not run out of packed snacks and needed lunch. 

A photo out front. 

See the Hollywood sign in the back?

The exhibits inside were neat and I love this pic of Ansel taking it all in. 

If only we could have been there at night, then we could have looked through the telescope. I love the signage here and the telescope was neat to look at. 

The next day we visited the Newport Temple. It's a beautiful spot. 

And we went to the beach. Balboa Peninsula was a lot of fun. We enjoyed looking at the beach homes. 

Ian loved burying his face in the sand. He wasn't bothered by it at all. 

For most of the day it was cloudy, but as you can see in this shot, the clouds are moving out and the sunny skies are moving in. Plus there's a really great guy and little kid in the foreground too. 

The next day was Disneyland. I had it in my mind that hardly anyone would be there since it had been reported that it was a low-crowd time of year. Haha! The crowds were smaller than usual, but heck, it's Disneyland, there were still lots of people there. However, our longest line was 35 minutes and we got on all the rides we wanted. Plus, no one hit my ankles with a stroller. Which, I don't really mind seeing as I am a stroller pusher myself but that was definite a sign that it was not overly busy. I don't think I will ever go to Disneyland during the busier season. It was just so nice to go when we did. And it was magical. I'm sorry, but I like the place, $4.75 churros and all!

This was our version of the double stroller. We had to resort to this at the beginning of the day because at the beach, Ansel stepped on something and it hurt him to walk. Fortunately, this got mostly better by the afternoon. 

After riding Pirates of the Caribbean. Ian slept, and then woke up after the second hill. But still, we all enjoyed it. And that hat Ansel's wearing, I bought it when I went to Disneyland the first time at age 5. Much nostalgia on this trip for me. 

On Splash Mountain, Ansel was bummed because he got wet, but before that he enjoyed it. Here I am bracing him like we're in a car without seat belts.

After a day at park. We got to see family there too which was extra special for us. The more the merrier I always say. 

The last day we visited the La Brea tar pits. This was a stop I knew nothing about but was so grateful we went. Bubbling tar from the earth coming out of pits that had been there since the Ice Age! Yes!

This is the Lake with the tar and those circles are bubbles from the pits. 

See Jess and Ian under those fossils?

We lucked out with a Jaguar XF for our rental car. I guess that's what's happens when you rent a full size.  

Cheers to a good time!