Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sunday Morning Pancakes

Keith was able to be home for 4 days in a row this weekend, which gave us the perfect opportunity to start calling up, emailing and sending notes on Facebook to all of our friends in the area (some live here and some visiting) to invite them to breakfast at our house today. We had a blast! The kids all behaved so well. And they ate like champs!

Megan and Pam and Sam. I'm slightly jealous that Sam has seen my brand new niece already.
After breakfast, the photo albums and yearbooks started to come out. Most of Keith's friends graduated from Forest Lake the same year he did. We even had some awkward middle school pictures of Ruben. He is such a good sport!

Joshua Flores enjoyed playing with all the kids. He and Megan were so cute together eating muffins and fruit side by side on the bench. She enjoyed practicing her Spanish with him.

Keith and Greg and Shelly. Greg and Shelly live in Tennessee now. It was so good to see them. And fantastic to finally meet Shelly. She was so wonderfully patient while she listened to Joshua read her a story.
We really had a wonderful time this morning.

After everyone went on their way, the kids snuggled in their new sleeping bags on the floor in the master bedroom to watch some old home videos of when Megan was a newborn.


Our telephone rang last night as I was putting the kids to bed and it was Keith's cousin, Michael Shank. It took me more than a few minutes to register, because in my mind Micheal is this daring, high-energy, adorable little boy - not the grown adult on the other end of the line.

Michael and his dad - Keith's Uncle Ron - were in town for a football game and happened to be staying very close to our house. So they popped on over for a visit to see Keith since Keith won't be making it to the family reunion next week.

The last time we saw the Shank Family, they were on vacation in Boston and drove out to Cape Cod to visit with us. We were all still in the hospital, since Joshua had just been born a few days earlier. I think perhaps during that visit, a little bit of Uncle Ron rubbed off on Joshua, because Josh is very into sports.

Keith was so excited that Micheal was coming to the house that he ran outside to wait for him. Micheal and his brother, Alex, are two very important boys to Keith. Keith watched over them the summer before Keith joined the Coast Guard.

It was so nice to see them. It really thrilled Keith to see what a great young man Micheal is. Micheal and Ron patiently listened to Daniel give a tour of his room. Joshua went back to bed, he's been pretty tired. Megan was ready to get up and put on some dress up clothes - the party girl that she is.

This morning, the house is much tidier than last night, and I'm hoping to not be in my PJ's when our morning visitors come. We are having a pancake breakfast for twenty people today. Some dear friends are visiting from out of town.

It's so fun to be back home close enough to visit with friends and family.

A Few of Our Favorite Things

The kids have been really enjoying their new Christmas toys. The marble run seems to be a huge hit with both the little kids and my big kid.
Keith helped the kids make a super cool marble roller coaster.

One of the fun things about moving around so often is that we had a few boxes that have been taped up since about 3 or 4 moves back. I unpacked a box a few nights ago that had some stuff from our wedding in it. Megan grabbed the shoes and claimed them for herself.
She danced around in them pretending to be married. Then she took them off and put them in a box and told me to save them until she fits into them and then she can be married. She's so funny!

The kids love to play in the hallway. It drives me crazy because I have to climb over them to get past them.
Joshua is pretty proud of the Coast Guard helicopter that he put together. It was one of his favorite Christmas presents.

Christmas Lunch

We went to Grandma and Grandpa's house today for a nice lunch. The kids were a little on the tired side, but handled themselves very nicely.

It will probably take us a year or two to get used to eating Christmas dinner out on the screened porch!

Christmas Morning Festivities

The kids slept until nearly 7am this morning!! Then they came out to check out their Christmas stockings. Christmas is really so easy with these guys. We don't really emphasize the whole Santa Claus side of Christmas. We don't exactly have anything against Santa Clause. I just can't get into the whole madness that comes with telling the kids to go tell Santa what they want for Christmas, and then me frantically looking for that item, or explaining why Santa can't/won't/isn't going to be bringing that item. Keith and I would rather research 5 or 6 things that we think the kids would enjoy and wrap those up for Christmas.

We've been following the kids' lead when it comes to Santa Claus. We had agreed that if the kids ask about Santa presents, we'd just say Santa filled their stockings. Today, nothing was mentioned about the big guy in red. It was just a fun day of exchanging presents with each other and having fun.
Daniel had been out shopping with me on the day that I purchased this spying scope. He was so excited to see it appear wrapped under the Christmas tree.

Joshua was thrilled to get some Coast Guard Legos.

Megan is holding a little high chair for her play kitchen area.

Grandma and Grandpa gave each of the kids a nice bean bag chair. The kids are thrilled!!

Christmas Eve Festivities

Christmas Eve, the kids went to work finishing up the presents they had been working on. Joshua and Megan labeled two boxes of golf balls for Grandpa.
Megan is distraught in this picture because she's letting me know that she doesn't know how to make a "J", so she was labeling them with "4".

Joshua drew all sorts of nice little pictures and wrote "I Love You" on some of the balls.

Even though the temperature was into the 70's we still had some down time with stories and hot chocolate.

After getting out of the tub, Megan assessed all the packages to see which ones were the heaviest!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

When Did This Happen?

Probably not the best picture of our Christmas tree with the sun coming in like that, but it will have to do for now.

Tonight finds me searching the house frantically looking for a paper bag to breath into to help my hyperventilating. Did everyone else know that tomorrow is Christmas Eve? How did this sneak up on me?

I still have Christmas cards sitting on my desk waiting to walk themselves to the mailbox.

I still have a small handful of presents left to wrap.

I just this morning found my favorite Christmas CD stashed in a CD book in the minivan.

If Christmas is this week, than that means the end of 2008 is next week.


I haven't lost those last 10 pounds I swore I'd lose this year.

I haven't finished unpacking the last room in the house.

Can we have a do-over? Or at least slow things down just a little bit tomorrow?

I'm predicting a day full of hot cocoa, home movies and sugar cookies tomorrow. Those pesky Christmas cards will get done sometime before next year, and I'm sure everything else will fall into place in their own timeline.

So if you haven't gotten a Christmas card from us yet this year, look for it some time in January. By then it will be 2009 and maybe I can get away with saying I'm just early for the next Christmas! :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Early Christmas Gifts!!

Our friend, Lauren, bought the kids presents on a recent vacation. Between all of our busy schedules, we just haven't been able to get together for Lauren to give them to the kids. But we promise to make it more of a priority after the first of the year when we fall into our new routine. The gifts were given to me this weekend at church and I managed to keep the bag away from the kids until we got home. Megan put the gifts under our Christmas tree where they stayed for just a short while. We went straight to Grandma and Grandpa's house after church and stayed until nearly bedtime, so the gifts remained under the tree until today.
This morning, we cooked a big breakfast and then I handed out the gifts from Lauren. The kids LOVED them! I so wish Lauren could have been here to hear the squeals of delight. The kids figured out their little race cars pretty quickly and before long were racing them through out the house.

All of a sudden right before dinner, Joshua started to not feel well. I just feel so bad for him that there doesn't seem to be anything that I can do to make him feel better. Between him being weepy on the couch and trying to get Keith out the door to head back to the station, time slipped away from us tonight. Sometime tomorrow, I'll have the kids call Lauren to thank her for her kindness and generosity.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hard Working Kids

I haven't been 100% pleased with the way Joshua's room was organized during the move-in. This morning, I asked him if he wanted to help me move some things around in his room. He was thrilled to clean away all morning long. Joshua has a really cool loft bed. I love that it gives him more room to move around in his room, but I miss being able to sit on the side of his bed with him.
Joshua has the biggest closet of all the kids' rooms. Keith and Grandpa worked really hard at installing closet organizing systems in each of the bedrooms before we even began unpacking. This morning we organized the Star Wars guys, the Lego's, the trucks and tons of other toys. They are all packed neatly in the closet.

Grandma and Grandpa gave us their old coffee table. It works great in Joshua's room for when Daniel and Joshua are playing together. It keeps the Lego's and other small parts of the floor for easier clean up. We also pull the table out from the wall and sit on either side to play board games. The white board is written with his weekly memory verse and the bulletin board is for some of his favorite artwork.
After cleaning inside, we decided we all could use some fresh air. Keith had just returned home as I was heading out front with the kids. Keith was off with our church's Men's motorcycle group, Ezekiel's Wheels. I was so glad to see him walk in the door, because I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to rake the whole front yard by myself. Our neighbors have large oak trees, but don't really bother to clean up all the leaves. When the wind picks up, the leaves end up in our yard. Usually, I try to get out and rake at least once a week, but it's been about two weeks and the yard was looking really bad!

The kids played with a bubble BBQ grill toy that Nana brought over a few weeks ago. Daniel would get the bubbles going and Joshua would use his light saber to pop them. Megan sang and danced around the yard (as usual).

Keith went out back to use the leaf blower on the walkway around the pool. After a few minutes, he walked in the house and handed me a tiny tangerine. Apparently our tree that we thought was a lime tree, is actually a tangerine tree. The fruit had not been getting very good sun because of the pine tree (the one that we had removed a few weeks after moving into the house). We hope to do some research in the next few weeks about what kind of citrus is actually growing on the tree and how we can help keep it healthy.

Keith hoisted the bigger kids up to each pick a fruit off the tree. Daniel was not interested at all in picking the fruit, but he was thrilled to eat it.

Megan was cracking me up trying so hard to s-t-r-e-t-c-h her arm up to grab one more fruit.

After being outside all afternoon, a nice warm tub was in order for all the munchkins. Daniel had only been out of the tub for about 15 minutes when he fell sound asleep on the couch.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


This picture was taken by one of the other parents from Megan's classroom. Since I managed to forget to bring my camera to both kids' parties, I figured I would post this gem instead.

Thursday morning, Megan's classroom had a breakfast party. Megan's teacher made homemade hot cocoa and one of the other parents brought in his waffle maker and made homemade waffles for the kids. We also had scrambled eggs and veggie-link sausage. That morning, Megan helped me to put together a big bowl of chopped fruit for her class. I was shocked at how good all the kids ate. I spent quite a bit of time dishing up second helpings of eggs, sausage and fruit for most of the kids. The kids sang songs for the parents and showed us all their Christmas crafts.

At about 10:30am, Megan's party was over and Joshua's was about to begin. Daniel and I left the pre-K classroom and went over to Joshua's K classroom. Joshua's classroom has an actual kitchen in it with a real refrigerator, sink, microwave and oven. When we got to Joshua's room, one of the mothers had already put a veggie casserole in the oven and was washing off strawberries in the sink. The teacher's parents are visiting from out of town and are very much the typical sweet older grandparents. Mr. S. was playing his guitar while the kids sat around him singing Christmas carols. It was very nice. The kids made dirt sundaes out of pudding, oreo cookies and cool whip.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chatting it up with Daddy

I couldn't resist posting this picture of Daniel chatting on the phone with Daddy. Notice, as usual, there is a huge bruise on Daniel's head.

Almost a Santa Visit

On Tuesday night we went to Cranes Roost Park to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Apparently every other person in our town all had that same plan. When we arrived, the line to see Santa was very long. In fact, an officer was standing at the midway part of the line and announced that if you had not moved up in line past him by 8pm, then you would not be able to visit with the Claus family tonight. The officer doing crowd control happens to be a friend of Keith and mine from many years ago. Troy and Keith graduated from high school together, and we all spent lots of fun times hanging out in high school. Joshua was quick to point out to me that Troy had a pistol on his side. We walked the loop of the park and passed quite a few large festive lighted displays.
Daniel is such a fast walker. When he is excited, those little legs start moving at a nearly jogging pace. I think he was dragging Grandma around the park.

The kids enjoyed the fountain show. The fountain was choreographed with Christmas music.

Joshua and Grandpa heading over to the large Christmas tree.
We ended up deciding not to wait in the gigantic line. Maybe we'll go back next week a little earlier to wave hello to the Claus family.

Big Boy Haircut

Daniel is such a big boy. He sat perfectly still in the kitchen while I cut his hair with the clippers.
I didn't get any before shots, but you can scroll back through the blog to see how shaggy he was starting to look. In the after shots, he's picking the hair out of his belly button.

See how handsome he is now! He's got such a big head on such a tiny body!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Lights!!

A few streets over from our house is a street with some very spirited Christmas lights. Our original plan was to go to Sea World today, but we still have a lot of coughing and sneezing going on in our house. So after a day of being inside, I took the kids for a long walk to look at Christmas lights.

The kids loved it! Except for when Daniel lost his footing and fell on his head. He somehow didn't bother to put his hands out to break his fall and his big huge noggin banged on the concrete. He's got a nice goose-egg and was pretty upset over the whole situation.
We sang Christmas carols on the way back to the house. Megan has a very interesting version of Away in a Manger and Daniel loves to repeat the Jingle Bells chorus a good 37 times in a row until he feels as though he's finished his turn singing. Joshua's favorite to sing was Rudolf the Rednose Reindeer.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Visit From Nana

Nana and Bill came over to visit this week. They came with tons of presents for the kids. Because I don't really plan on traveling too far with the kids on Christmas day, we decided to exchange Christmas presents this week during a mini-celebration. Daniel is so funny. It takes him forever to unwrap presents.
Megan and Daniel spent nearly an hour playing with the Diego house.

The kids love the dress-up clothes. Megan says she is a nurse. Joshua is a secret agent.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Concert at FLEC

Tonight the big kids had their Christmas Concert at school. Joshua's group sang and Megan's group sang and rang bells. It was a very nice concert and very well coordinated. I'm sure it wasn't a very easy task organizing all of those bundles of energy.

I haven't gone through all my pictures from the concert, because I'm feeling yucky and going to bed shortly. I can't seem to shake this cold.