Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Was Great

At the end of 2008, here are all the kids.

I had so much fun taking these pictures :)

Naomi keeps us all smiling. It is so much fun having a toddler around. She loves being a part of a big family (translation:lots of people to dote on her) and frequently recites everyone's names to herself as she plays - Daddy, Mommy, Mermer, Rayray, Heayer, Gaga, Lelly, Mymy and Momo. When someone is missing from the house (work, school, etc.) she likes to ask those at home where her missing family members are...repeatedly.

Michael is frequently trying to learn more about the world around him. This includes asking lots of questions, enjoying nonfiction, esp. books about animals, and climbing on things. He can see further that way and has learned plenty about the law of gravity this year, although not enough for him to stop his studies. If you look closely at his picture, you might be able to see the remnants of his golf ball sized goose egg, has scar from stitches, a more current scab, and the bump next to his eye that he will have to have surgery on early next year. His favorite flavor is coconut and his favorite color is, to quote, "light purple and yellow mixed together".

Kelly has grown so much this year that almost all her pants are four inches too short. It is a good thing she got some new ones for Christmas. She keeps busy with schoolwork, keeping an eye on Naomi for me and making beautiful things (notes, sculptures, collages, etc.) to give to people she loves. Her favorite colors are purple and red and her favorite candy is chocolate licorice. She likes poetry.

Gwen had an exciting year starting public school for the first time. In addition to the three R's, she is learning ballroom dancing, goes to Strings class to play the violin and stays after school once a week for Science Club. She had a blast going to Stan's family reunion this past summer. Her favorite candy is chocolate, favorite color is blue and she has too many favorite authors to list, but one of them is Jean Craighead George. Gwen is an author herself, and I've told her I expect her to dedicate one of her books to me when she gets published. I am just hoping it isn't called "Mommy Dearest".

Heather switched from violin to viola this school year, which means we are that much closer to our string quartet :) She stays after school each Tuesday to wear out her shoes dancing in the Dance Club and actually competed at our local university last spring. She danced against people twice, three times, even four times her age and still did well enough to be called back in for a second round with her partner. She climbs higher in trees than anyone else in the family and takes good care of her rabbit. Her favorite authors are Brandon Mull, Jessica Day George and Brandon Sanderson. She likes the color orange and Milky Ways.

Rachel has been homeschooled this last year and has become a whiz at taking online classes. She's taken Algebra, World History, Computer, Geometry and Physics. She likes being home and having more time to spend with her younger siblings. This past year, she has enjoyed going to the beach and being in Young Women at church, even if her mom is always there looking over her shoulder. Rachel saved her money and bought herself a camera. She has a blog where she posts some of her pictures and movies. She is enjoying reading "Ivanhoe" currently. Her favorites are candy - salt water taffy, and color - blue. She looks forward to starting high school (back in public school) next fall.

Summer loved being in The California Dreamin' Stadium Spectacular Dance Festival this past year and she had a lot of fun going to monthly dances with her friends from church. She is taking her first AP class this year. Her teacher is very entertaining and spits on the first row of students when he gets excited. Her favorite class continues to be Orchestra, where she plays the cello. Her favorite color is purple and favorite candy is Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Some authors Summer enjoys are Shannon Hale, P. G. Wodehouse and Brandon Mull. She has recently become proficient with a hula hoop and looks farward to getting her learner's permit(!) in 2009. When I dropped her off at her New Year's Eve party earlier, she said, "See you next year!" and I'll say the same to all of you, see you in 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Rachel!

Happy Birthday Rachel!

Here is our new teenager (13!) reigning over her birthday dinner. If you haven't guessed yet, it was Chinese food, but not at one of the places around the corner. We went to. . .
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
. . . Chinatown!

We decided to splurge, take it easy and take the train. Summer enjoyed the time to read and Naomi liked watching the scenery out the window.

Gwen and Kelly enjoyed each others' company.

I love so many things about Chinatown, the food, the feeling of walking city streets, the treasures to buy, but maybe my favorite part is the color.



Even the alleys are decorated and...

...one of my favorite walls was this one covered in umbrellas. Do you remember that one, Claire?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

First Prayer

Naomi saw me helping Michael saying his prayers this evening and seemed interested, so I asked her if she wanted to say her prayers. She nodded, which is how she says yes most of the time and raised her eyebrows, which is how she shows that she is excited about something :)


I had her kneel down and prompted her word for word. She did wonderfully for her first try.

One thing that made me smile was when, in the closing, I said, "Name" for her to repeat after me and she promptly said, "Momo."


Thursday, December 25, 2008

We wish you a Kelly Christmas!

Christmas is so much fun through the eyes of a six year old. Here are some tidbits from Kelly's day -

She gave very creative Christmas gifts, all of which she wrapped herself in used Young Women lesson visual aids and dental floss (we are hoping that wasn't used!).

For example, here is what she gave me, a piece of old pillowcase, decorated with a love note, a heart shaped marble and some cutout flowers -


She also spent a big buck and got Stan a lovely purple silk tie...at the dollar store!

She was excited to receive gifts as well. She got what she wanted from Santa - a musical jewelry box. Gwen also regifted (wait, can you call it that if it never was a gift to begin with?) a lovely hairnet she had been keeping since the last time she came and helped me at the dry pack cannery that Kelly has been coveting. Kelly was so happy, so wore it for a while, with ribbons added to make it extra festive. She is also wearing some of the eyeshadow Aunt Sara sent to Summer.


Stan started off the morning by starting a fire in the fireplace. When we were done opening gifts, it had burned down to hot coals perfect for roasting marshmallows, which is just what Kelly did, despite the fact that she thought the coals looked, "creepy".


Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This is why Stan is glad I don't drag him along on errands!


So, I went to the post office yesterday twice. The first time was to put all our Christmas cards in the early pickup slot to feed my unrealistic optimism about everyone getting them by Christmas. The second time was right when they opened to mail off a couple of packages. I also wanted to ask if I could return the 60 extra stamps I had left after putting postage on the aforementioned cards. I don't know WHY I thought we sent 100 cards each year when we really only send 50. I just didn't remember from last year, didn't take the time to check the list (how unSanta of me - he would have checked twice) and obviously have an overblown idea of how many friends we have.



Anyway, I had just takenmy place at the end of the long line and saw someone approaching the Automated Postal Center. I said, "Excuse me, are you buying stamps?" She was and was gracious enough to buy 40 of my extras, which was a good thing, since of course the USPS was not going to give me cash back for my extra stamps. The gentleman who helped me suggested I use the rest on my sister's Christmas package, which were my thoughts exactly. So it is on it's way to her house with - count 'em - 32 stamps.



Monday, December 22, 2008

Heather is Student of the Month


We are proud of her :)

(Despite my "I can't face this" photo)


A Couple of Fun Pictures

It goes without saying that everyone is getting excited for Christmas around here.

The other day the vacuum was sitting in the living room waiting for someone to put it to use when Santa Kelly decided it would make a good sleigh and that her two younger siblings would work as reindeer.


I really like a Sunday nap if I can fit it in. Naomi lies down with me and doesn't always trust me to stay there with her until she is ready to get up, so sometimes she takes drastic measures.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Nifty 2009 Personalized Calendar

Our insurance agent sends us some goody each December. In the past, it has mostly been address labels, but she outdid herself this year. Our new 2009 personalized desk calendar may be less useful than the labels, but I find it much more fascinating. Check out some of the pictures for each month of the year -


Kind of cool, kind of Hitchcock-ish


This is exactly how I feel about Stan.


I can't decide which one is my favorite, but it has to be one of these last two - which do you like best?



Alright, I have to admit it is pretty narcissistic, but I think these pictures are nifty, amazing, fascinating!



Apple "Rinds"

Naomi does not like apple peel lately. I am having a hard time adjusting. Here I have this low maintenance kid (at least in this aspect of life) who wasn't picky about apple peel and overnight, it seems, she rejects it and wants me to peel her apples. Well, I can see myself giving in on all kinds of things if I let her have her way on this one, so I just don't do it. I leave the peel on.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Now, she eats her apples like they are slices of watermelon!


So, after picking up two dozen apple "rinds" over a week's time, I am wavering in my resolve to never peel an apple for this kid again and then we are taking apples in the car (no handy place to put trash) and I give in. I peel a couple slices and instruct the older kids that they are for Mo. While we are driving, after our apple snack, Rachel informs me that Naomi has eaten her lovely, peel-free apples JUST as if they had PEELS on them! So now we are barreling down the freeway with apples "rinds" that are quickly disintegrating because they have no peels on them to keep them together and the smell of ripe juicy, mushy apple wafting through the car. Ugh!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Roadtrip!!!

We went out of town for Thanksgiving. It was a long but lovely drive. It was cool and rained off and on. If only every time we drove through the Nevada desert it was this refreshing...

Even though the rain is fascinating enough for the mother, we still needed to pack emergency backup entertainment for the Mo.

As much as I long for rain living in Southern California, I miss fall colors even more. We were able to see some lovely ones on our trip...

...and the kids were able to visit Utopia, I mean The Barn at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Naomi was excited to find pine cones...

...and excited to be shut into the chicken coop...

...even though Grandpa has some pretty crazy looking chickens!

Michael looking angelic in a rare moment. Maybe he is getting ready for Santa Claus to come.

Summer and Heather had fun climbing into the loft of the barn with their cousin Kate. The kids liked it so much up there, they convinced their parents to let them sleep up in the rafters one night. In the morning, I asked Rachel how it was. She shivered and replied with one word, "Cold."

We must not have had our fill of farm animals at the grandparent's house because Friday afternoon, we went to feed some ducks. It was all fun and games until a swan bit Naomi. Ouch!

The bread and grains we brought must have been tasty because the geese wanted to come home with us.

Grandpa found some time to tell stories about his time as a cowboy and farmer in Mexico. He also found some pictures to show us.

Naomi fell completely, totally, madly in love with Uncle Woody.

After only one full day and two short nights, we were off, riding into the sunset, headed back to our home in the West.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dress-up

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday Morning at the Beach

We went to the beach yesterday. It is one thing that captures the interest of every member of our family, no matter what age. I wasn't sure we would be able to go back again before the end of the year or not, with the busyness of the holidays upon us, so we woke the kids up, jumped in the car and took off to get donuts on the way.

Stan caught a crab...

but I was satisfied with taking a picture of the one I found.

I took off by myself to climb on some rocks and look at the BIG starfish Stan told me he saw.

Summer and Gwen both enjoyed walking in the water.


Naomi spent a lot of the time following her dad around.

He kept her safe from the big bad surf...

...and gave her a lift back to the car.

I liked the colors in this picture, especially the way the red repeats. The problem with asking your kids to smile for a photo in the sun is that it is hard to get everyone with their eyes open at the same time.

There was a playground right before we got onto the beach that we had to stop at for a couple of minutes.

Here are Heather, Rachel and Mo, all defying gravity.