Thursday, December 29, 2011

Debbie Downer Meets Christmas Spirit

 For any of you who know me well or have been following for at least a year, know of my open dislike for Christmas.  I have spent the last 7-8 years whining about how annoying Christmas is.  We all spend too much money, stress ourselves out, and gain weight.  Don't get me wrong I love the Christmas spirit, just not all the worldly Christmas hullabaloo. This year as the season approached I listened to my children express excitement to one another about the upcoming events, I knew I only had a few short years with them and I had to change.  It was probably mid November when I decided to quit being the Grinch and allow my heart to grow.  I quickly got to thinking of how I could help myself enjoy the things about the season that I couldn't change.  I decided that the more organized I was, the less stressed I would be.  I had my Christmas cards printed and in hand a few days before Thanksgiving, (check that stressor off my list) Truthfully Christmas cards is my very most favorite part of the season.

Next I made a list of all the gifts I needed to buy or make and really tried to stick to it.  I made our neighbor gifts and delivered them nearly the first week of December. I did almost all my shopping online, and scaled back from years past.  I had teachers gifts and other small things completed ahead of time.  I put the tree upstairs so that the kids could enjoy it and I wouldn't get so annoyed by the "mess" of it.  I even let the kids decorate it completely by themselves and left it the way they did it. I only put up about half of my decor so that I wouldn't be so overwhelmed putting it up and taking it down later. I played Christmas music throughout the house incessantly for weeks, and spent my few minutes before I crashed at night studying the birth of our Savior in the bible.  For family home evenings we watched the church videos of the first Christmas and I even read a few Christmas stories to the kids before bed.  I really put forth every effort to enjoy the season, and for the most part I did. There were a few stressful days with sick kids and self inflicted worry about whether or not the kids were getting "enough" for Christmas. 

When Christmas Eve arrived Weston and the kids helped me clean the house and Wes even went to the grocery store for me (a story in and of itself:)) Christmas Eve was delightful and Christmas Day was perfect.  Kallie came downstairs around 4 am and was upset because Cole wouldn't wake up.  I tried to get her to cuddle me and go back to sleep. No doing, she finally watched T.V. until about 6 when I heard her crying.  We got up and it took all of us to wake up Cole! Both kids were full of excitement and that doubled when Hagen woke up.  The kids were way more excited about what they gave then what they got.  I was so proud of them.  My mom and dad came for about an hour that morning and we were thrilled to have them.  Church was awesome, the spirit there was so strong and I felt so content.  We had Christmas breakfast at G&G Crapo's house and then went to my mom and dad's to skype with Elder Angell in South Carolina.  What a great gift to get to see his face and know that he is okay. I miss him like crazy and can't wait for him to return!

Around five we headed to Island Park to stay with Braxton at the condo.  The very best part of Christmas for me was this; Kallie got a journal and in it she wrote, "I love Christmas, do you want to know why? Because it is Jesus's birthday!"  All the pre-Christmas preparation helped me to enjoy the holidays, but the private thoughts of a six year old taught Debbie Downer the true meaning of Christmas!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pre Christmas Festivities

 We started our crazy week of Christmas off with the Angell family party on Monday.  This is always a lot of fun for me to see my cousins that I really only see once or twice a year.  Every family is expected to perform some sort of talent for the program.  I am overjoyed that our kids are now old enough to take our place in this area.  Kallie played a song on the piano and did a fantastic job.  We ended the evening in style when we checked out early because Cole got sick:(
 Wednesday was the school program which was awesome.  The kids all did so good and have been practicing for a long time.  This is most of Kallie's 1st grade class, they are a great group of kids and I am happy that she has so many great friends.
 Thursday night was our ward party, I was surprised to see Cole in the program as King Benjamin.  He did a great job looking stoic, and they all sang their little hearts out!
Christmas Eve was hosted by the Jensen's, it was fabulous as always. They are the best hostess's ever. We were surprised when right before the prayer over dinner was about to be said, some extremely loud hip hop music started blaring over the surround sound and all the grandkids came strolling out from all different rooms doing a mob dance.  They were pretty good too and had it choreographed really cute.  It was pretty impressive.  After dinner each family was required to perform some sort of musical performance. Weston rocked an awesome solo accompanied by none other than Kallie Jo and Cole accented with the symbols! After the movie of the first Christmas and a family sing a long of Silent Night; Grandma busted out the gifts.  Each kid opened their pajamas and quickly put them on.  (Some a little more modestly than others) We snapped a few pix and did a little cleaning up and then headed home to bed so the big guy could come. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wild Animals

 We no longer have an infant and we don't quite have a toddler at our house, we are in the wild animal stage.  You know what I mean right? Hagen is just mobile enough to crawl around and destroy and chew on everything but not walking or talking yet.  Sometimes it feels like I literally opened the door and let a wild animal in.  Hagen thinks he is super cool now that he can crawl and pull himself up to things.  We had to turn his crib around backwards to keep him from falling out until we have time to lower it.  He is also adding his own teeth marks to the sides of the crib to match what the two older kids left.  I can't bring myself to paint over them, I think it is a little cute! How is it that time goes so fast? He was just barely a newborn I swear it. 
As much as I hate to see him grow and become mobile I have to admit that I am pretty happy to see him developmentally right on track.  We were told to expect delays and I have yet to see them!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Weekend Getaway

 We have been planning a little trip to SLC since August when I purposely scheduled Hagen's eye appointment for December.  (Weston really doesn't enjoy traveling to the "big city" much but I was dying for my kids to experience Temple Square at Christmastime) Thanks to Hagen's eye condition we will get to go see the lights every December and to Hogle Zoo every June for at least five more years!!
We cruised down Friday morning and met up with some friends for lunch and then we were off to Temple Square.  It was gorgeous as always, and the giant nativity really caught the kids attention.  They have really scaled back on the lights, there just doesn't seem to be as many as there used to be but they are still breathtaking. It was pretty much freezing cold so we didn't spend too much time there.  Back at the hotel I was mom of the year and swam with my kiddos! Hagen loved it and Kallie and Cole were regular little fishies!

 Saturday we went to the Children's Discovery Museum at the Gateway.  I strongly suggest going, it was really a lot of fun.  We spent a few hours there and it wasn't enough.  My kids could've spent all day! Everything was from a "Kids Eye View" and it really was a lot of fun.  Even Brand and Weston seemed to enjoy themselves!

 This part was our favorite. I really want to build a replica of this construction zone in my toy room!

**As for Hagen's eye appointment, it actually got cancelled.  The receptionist that called said the doctor had a medical emergency and would be out until the end of January.  I really hope everything is okay. I was a little disappointed not to have Hagen's eyes looked at. I am really curious what they are going to tell us.  He is doing really well and I think he seems to see actually quite good.  Truth is though a post-Christmas shopping trip the end of January might be pretty fun!:)

Monday, November 21, 2011


We just got our family pictures back and I am so happy with them.  Kassie Crapo took them and did a fantastic job! She is reasonably priced, very talented, and great with kids! I was especially happy with the shot she got of little Hagen, he is very hard to photograph because he has a hard time focusing on anything and so he is never really looking at the camera! Also sadly enough this is the first professional picture I have of Weston and I since our engagements 8 1/2 years ago.  I love it! I have hundreds of great pictures of Kallie and Cole but Kassie is able to catch their personalities perfectly! I highly recommend her, that is if you can get in.  She is in high demand, I actually scheduled Hagen's 1 year pix at his six month birthday, so good luck!

With Thanksgiving this week (2nd only to the 4th of July as my fav. holiday) I can't help but reflect on how grateful I am for my happy, healthy little family.  My gratitude list could be a mile long but these four people are definitely on the top of my list. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How the Cowboy Became a Ninja

Fact, Cole is a Cowboy;
Fact, Cole has wanted to be a cowboy for Halloween for 3 years running now,
Fact, This year was no different until.....
A month or so ago he saw a sword in Wal Mart that he desperately wanted. Now you must know something about me to fully comprehend this story, I was NOT deprived as a child I was in fact very blessed and spoiled. However we never got a toy or a treat at the store for no reason, it had to be a birthday or Christmas. We never purchased costumes, they were always homemade. Quite honestly I don't remember making ample trips to Wal Mart a month, when we went to "town" it was the local Broulims grocery and if we were lucky enough to even get out of the car we quietly marched in line next to our mother. (Okay this is an exaggeration, I am sure I wasn't quite the angelic princess I remember being) Once in awhile we were allowed to pick a treat to be shared between the five of us kids.  It was then that we decided that my mother should have never had that fifth child, splitting a Twix in four ways is doable but five?? 

Back to the story; I have held on to the belief that kids don't need something every time we go to the store. In fact they appreciate a treat instead of expecting it. I feel strongly in teaching appreciation to my children.  So the story goes, Cole found a sword in the Halloween isle at Wal Mart that he HAD to have.  I said no, he asked a few more times, I still said no.  We got to the check out counter, he asked one last time.  My answer still 'no' came with an explanation that if I purchased the said sword that I would be unnecessarily spoiling him. Mr. Quick Wit replied with; "Then buy two and give one to Kallie, I don't care." I laughed and we went home without the sword.  

A couple weeks later we are back at said store, Mr. Quick Wit is still asking for said sword.  Mean mom is still teaching 'appreciation' and the answer is still no. (Not to mention that I happen to know what kind of havoc a plastic sword in the hands of my four year old would wreak upon our home)

Another week or so later, it is a Wednesday. Preschool Halloween party is the next day.  Cole has been telling me for months that he is going to be Cowboy Woody for Halloween. I asked him if he was just going to wear his chaps, spurs, boots and hat for his costume.  He said; "No my Cowboy Woody costume".  This is a problem because; 1. it is hideous, 2. it is too small, and 3. it is in shreds.  A trip to Wal Mart is a necessity at this point and besides that, the baby needs more diapers and baby food.  It is off to Wal Mart for the 3rd time this month. 

We stop off at the Halloween isle first, checking for a Cowboy Woody costume because lets face it I am just not quite as crafty and frugal as my mother.  First thing we see in the isle.... The Sword... $2.97 and shining in the eyes of Mr. Smarty Pants like a million bucks.  I can see his mind working and quick too. I am skimming the costumes for Mr. Woody with no luck.  Cole however has changed his mind on costume choice for the first time since he could talk.  He is pointing to a ninja costume and I can hear his silent train of thought. The boy in the picture is holding "The Sword".  Cole's mind is made up, he wants to be a ninja for Halloween.  I am so in awe by his genius that I can't even try and change his mind.  He picks the costume and puts it in the cart and off we go to the baby isle. He says nothing of the sword and neither do I . This kid is playing it smart.  We are almost done with our shopping and the boy has been an angel.  He finally gets the nerve up to ask or rather state his lingering thoughts.  "Well I guess if I am going to be a ninja I am probably going to need to get that sword too!!" I can't help but laugh out loud.  I have been manipulated by my four year old and I can't even help it.  I bought the sword, I had no choice.  I laughed all day and he was the happiest ninja in the world!

Since this event I have been asking myself; "Did I lose?" "Did i teach my kid to manipulate me?" I think not, I think I still taught him to appreciate.  Had I bought the sword the first time, it would have been played with for a day and then forgotten.  Left for the next load to the DI. The same probably would've been true if I had bought it the second time.  However by making him WAIT and WANT I think he learned to figure out a way to WORK for what he really wanted. I realize that his work wasn't in the form of sweeping the garage and earning the $2.97, but in making his mind work and formulating a plan. I can't help but think this world would be a better place to live if every child was taught to work for what they want. 
 These two were pretty cute in their costumes too! (Thank you to the "hand-me-downers")

Please share your thoughts on how you teach this value to your children.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Things that Have Made Me Smile Lately

 Fresh cuts for both me and baby,
 putting his own binky in and going back to sleep on his own, (Love it upside down!)
 Being big enough to bath in the kitchen sink,
 a big brother who loves to feed the baby (and does a darn good job of it)
 big sister who rocks the baby to sleep while mom is cleaning and completely unaware that the baby was even fussing, (I found her in the nursery just like this)
Lastly, cute cold weather gear! Even if the spuds are still in the ground, it was fun to pull out a cute hat and sweater!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Recent Happenings

Kallie: Just started 1st grade and is loving it! She has made a lot of new friends already and is thrilled to eat lunch at school. The first time they served mashed potatoes with an ice cream scoop she was ecstatic that she was getting ice cream for lunch until they dumped a load of gravy on it. We have giggled about that story a bunch lately! She is just so darn funny! Kallie is "in the pink" books at school which apparently is really cool and means she is reading good. She couldn't be more excited about that! Kallie also just started piano lessons and clogging and loves both. We are thrilled to have her around!!

Cole: Cole is always bursting with energy and attitude! He has a stubborn streak that is unmatched by anyone. (I am positive he gets this from my mom) I am teaching preschool again this year and Cole definitely keeps it challenging for me. Cole's favorite toys of late are his stick horses and stick cows, they go everywhere he goes! Cole asks about every day if he can go to the farm. He spent a little time in the tractor packing corn with my dad and some time with Cowboy Ryan herding cows and chopping corn. He and Ryan are buddies and I think it is so cute. I am sometimes sad that Weston doesn't work on the farm so Cole can't go with him every day, but am so grateful for Ryan and others that will tote Cole along! We sure love this boy!

Hagen: Growing like a weed this one is! I can't believe he is already 7 months old! He is such a gem though, in the last month he has really taken off and hit lots of milestones. He spent about a week rolling from one end of the house to the other, this phase ended as ubruptly as it started as he realized that he could scoot much quicker and without getting so dizzy! He scoots on his back and digs his heels in. He is fast though and shockingly hasn't rubbed ALL the hair off the back of his head. Hagen is sitting up really good and loves to be left alone with a bucket of toys. He eats like a pig; his favorites being sweet potatoes and bananas! Hagen laughs and giggles like crazy but his all time favorite activity is the jumper. He sits in it every morning for over an hour while I exercise and happily squeals the whole time. Almost without fail he will fall asleep when he is fully exhausted and satisfied with his workout. I have decided he may become a fitness extraordinaire because he usually spends another 30 or so minutes in the jumper while I am getting dinner on. That is an hour and a half of extreme exercise per day my friends!!! :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hagen's Prognosis

We took Hagen to Primary Children's last weekend and came home feeling very blessed and humble. We actually didn't really learn anything that we didn't already know, they confirmed he has Ocular Albinism and that he doesn't and won't ever see perfectly. However they were so positive and upbeat with us. We did learn though that it is really not as bad as it seemed to us at first. One of the doctors we saw was a funny brilliant little man who gave us lots of comfort and hope. He has studied Albinism for over 30 years and has only seen about 200 cases of ocular albinism, so it is really quite rare. He actually developed the testing for the condition and has written many articles on it. He awnsered most every question we had and spent a lot of one on one time with us.

We also learned that the type of Ocular Albinism that Hagen has will continue to improve and get better as he grows. His vision now is about 20/95 which is actually still in the normal range for kids his age. He will probably be prescribed glasses by age 2-3 to help "sharpen things up" but they won't fix the problem. He did tell us that he will never see in 3D but no big deal there, hopefully his vision will just improve enough that he will be mainstream in school and be able to drive someday. They also told us his nystagmus (shaky eyes) will probably diminish to the point that it is unnoticeable by his teenage years!

He could possibly develop a head tilt or head turn where kids cock their head off to one side to help get the best angle for vision that they can. This can be fixed with a little surgery by age six or seven if it is bad enough. His skin and hair will always be a bit lighter than the rest of the family and he will always sunburn easily, but nothing that a little sunscreen and a hat can't fix.

We will see the doctors every three months for awhile just to make sure nothing else comes up with his eyes and to keep track of his progress. They were actually super impressed that our doctor, Dr. Fullmer right here in Rexburg was able to diagnose him so easily with it being so rare and all. We will actually just be following up with him and then if the need arises we can always head back to Salt Lake. We have been set up with the Idaho School for the Blind so if any developmental delays show up they can help with that. Right now he is doing great, maybe a little behind where my other kids were at his age but still in the normal category as far as charts go. He is rolling all over the place, and laughing and talking like crazy. He has two teeth and can sit up on his own for like 2 seconds but hey!! Hagen is eating lots of baby food now and is a little porker, he is still small for his age but I have a feeling with the way he eats solid food he will catch up in a hurry. He is growing out of his swing which is a sad day for me, but he does like the jumper and the walker so I can still trap him in those for a bit. He also sits in the high chair now!!

I have learned that we all want nothing more than for our children to be perfect and healthy, but we can't always have that. I am super grateful that his problems are as minor as they are at this point. In the four hours we spent at the Primary Childrens Opthamology Center we saw a lot of much worse things than we are dealing with. I think when life gets hard we can take comfort in the fact that there is always someone with much worse problems to deal with!

Cole turns 4!!

I remember when I was a kid birthdays were super exciting, we usually got to take a treat to school to share, mom would make us our favorite dinner followed by cake of choice (mine was always angel food cake with angel food cake frosting, super bad for you but if you would like the recipe I would be happy to oblige) and then one sometimes two gifts from mom and dad. The best part of the whole day though, was NO JOBS!!! I loved my birthday, I have tried to keep birthdays simple like that but it is a very hard thing to do.

Cole's ended up lasting 4 days this year! Ridiculous!

Day one: Grammy took Cole shopping to pick out a gift and go to lunch, he picked a stick cow from his favorite store in the whole world; CAL Ranch and then lunch at Dairy Queen where he got his very own blizzard! (Come on mom, what happend to one small blizzard with six extra spoons??) Cole was in heaven and loved every minute of it!

Day two: Cole's actual birthday landed on a Saturday so Weston got to have breakfast with us, Cole chose blue waffles and I surprised him by putting candles in it. (He later told me this was the best part of his birthday) We then gave Cole his gift from us which was a digger toy for their new sandpit. He could've cared less since he really just wanted to practice his bull riding on his new stick cow! Later the kids went to the fair with Weston and had lots of fun there, he however came home without them saying they wanted to go home with Gra Gra?? Whatever pleases them I guess. When we picked them up later we went to the neighbors house for pizza and when we got home Cole was too tired for his own cake.

Day three: After church we had cake and ice cream. Cole wanted a Cowboy Woody cake this year but my creativity wouldn't allow for it and he had to settle with a Woody's boot! And then the ONLY thing he wanted for his birthday was a pinata, but he wanted to whack it all by himself. Simple enough request, he and Kallie hit that thing 100 times and didn't put a dent into it, Weston finally had to give it a good whack with a golf club to bust it open!

Day four: Shopping with Grandma where he picked out basically the same gift he had with Grammy, but this time it was a stick horse (which he already had, but cowboys apparently need two horses) You can imagine the damage that kid is doing to my walls and trim, we may have to cut the ends of those off a bit. But now the birthday is over and we are all happy about it! Especially me, the spoiled little turd!