Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Recap/Happy Holidays!

Where has the year gone??  I am regretting that I haven't kept notes on our doings on this much-neglected blog.  But since I am not giving up entirely for the year, I'll try my best for an informative but not too wordy recap of the highlights from 2012.

Alayna- Turned 2 in July.  She is one sweet and sassy little girl.  She is a very articulate speaker and we almost can't get enough of what she has to say.  Just tonight while we were reading scriptures she's listening then saying, "what's beseech mean?"  and "what's advocateth?"  In her cute 2 year-old voice it's just unbearably sweet.  We realize we have had enough of her voice for one day though when it's after 10 pm and she is still talking to/yelling at her sister keeping her awake.  We're still finessing bedtime, as you can imagine.  She is my constant sidekick at the gym, grocery store, etc. while the older two are at school.  She has lots of little buddies in the nursery at church including two kids who we have a weekly playgroup with.  She loves her baby dolls and is a very loving little "mommy."

Ian- Turned 6 in October.  With his Fall birthday, he is one of the oldest kids in his Kindergarten class.  You may recall that he did a Kindergarten program last year during his Pre-K year so although he has a handle on the curriculum for the most part, he really enjoys being at school.  He loves the atmosphere of being around friends and getting to do lots of brain-stimulating activities.  His favorite class is art, but I think he enjoys all the specials (art, PE, music, computer) almost the same amount.  In September, he started piano lessons and soccer.  He and Madeleine were on the same team and they both did fantastic.  Ian is really fast and he seemed to pick up the rules pretty quick.  He's also progressing well in piano.  He played Honey Bee and Jolly Old St. Nicholas at his first recital earlier this month.  He loves Super Mario Bros. on the Wii and anything Ninjago.

Madeleine- Turned 8 in May and was baptized in June.  (You only have to go back one blog post for that full story:)  This girl is rocking and rolling in 3rd grade.  We lucked out with her teachers because they assign very little homework.  She is expected to do the majority of her work in school including big projects, which makes me a little anxious, but she is doing really well and loving school.  Especially because two of her friends from church are in her class at school.  Pretty remarkable since there are 9 or 10 third grade classes.  Again, she was great in soccer.  The teams had kids from Kindergarten through 3rd grade so she was the oldest on her team and the tallest.  She'd like to do more soccer in the future but she's really hoping to play basketball next.  Althetics seem to come naturally for her so it will be interesting to see if she decides there's one sport she just loves.  Santa brought pogo sticks and she has already mastered that.  Even jumping with no hands!  Since turning 8 she gets to go twice a month to Activity Days with the girls her age at church.  She's doing really, really well at piano.  She's got a great ear and figured out how to play quite a few Christmas songs.    

Spencer- Working as a project manager at ExxonMobil.  He's really enjoying work and is constantly learning and growing.  He is also working on a second master's degree, this time in construction management.  Thankfully he's working on it slowly (one night a week, online) so he still has time for the family.  It will take a while to complete but he loves what he's learning about and feels like this degree will be a great addition to his professional skills.  He keeps fit doing Insanity workouts, which are awesome.  About once a month he plays the bass with a bluegrass band.  At church he is the choir director.

Rachel- Same old, same old.  Cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.  I remember at the end of last year predicting more projects around the house and it turns out I was sort of right.  I redecorated the girls' bedroom, including making lovely headboards and refinshing a vanity.  Painted a bathroom too.  Not much, but honestly, running a household and caring for this family is one big ongoing project, right?!  I'm still an avid gym go-er so I can get some exercise and some me time all at once.  Spencer and I both sang in our stake choir's Christmas program.  That has become one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season.  I am still overseeing the nursery at church.  A job that has become much simpler since since our ward split about 6 months ago.

Additional highlights:
- A trip to San Diego at the end of April.  We got to see my sister Angela and her family, a few friends from LA at Disneyland, Curtis and Amy and their kids and Drew.  This really deserves a post of its own.
-Coldplay live at the Toyota Center.
-Two  camping trips.  One in the heat of late Spring (maybe this should be a lowlight) and one in early November (highlight).
-Spending a day and a half in San Antonio with my sister Erika and her family.
-Madeleine's baptism, complete with a visit from Grandpa Gus and Grandma Sandi.
-My sister Maggie and her family stayed with us in October.  NASA, Children's Museum, family time.  Sister time seeing Gotye in concert.
-Thanksgiving with another sister!  Olivia and Ben came down from Billings with her kids and stayed for a week.  Indoor Schlitterbahn, Museum of Natural Science, and NASA again.  Also great Texas BBQ (Rudy's) and Tex-Mex (Pappasito's).
-A couple running events for me.  A mud run one weekend and a nighttime 5k the next.

We love you all and hope you forgive us for not sending a tangible Christmas card.  We are so grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and for the Christmas season to celebrate His birth.  Striving to be like Him and live His teachings brings us immeasurable peace and happiness. We are also so very grateful for all the amazing people in our lives. We are truly blessed!  We wish you all a wonderful 2013!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

8 years old and a baptism

Our oldest child is 8 years old.  Time goes by so fast!  Will that ever stop being so crazy to me?  Back in May, Madeleine turned 8.  She had been looking forward to it for a couple reasons.  One was that she was very eager to be baptized.  The other, and maybe what she was most excited for, was that we were letting her get her ears pierced this year.  She got them pierced as a baby but she kept pulling them out so we eventually quit putting them back in.  Then for the past couple years I thought about doing it as part of her birthday gifts, but each of those times it was decided that she had gotten plenty of gifts and didn't need another one.  So this was her lucky year.  And she has not been disappointed.  She counted down the days till she was able to change into different earrings and she still can't wait to wear some dangly ones. 

As you can see, I attempted a barbie cake.  It tasted good, I can say that for certain.  But if Alayna ever wants one in the future I hope I can learn from this experience what I need to do differently to make it a bit prettier.  Madeleine loved it though and since it was delicious it must have been a success.  Don't judge a book by its cover, or something like that, right?

June 16th was the big baptism day.  Her actual birthday fell the day after our ward's regular day for baptizing the kids turning 8, so she got to wait almost a month.  It worked out great though since it made it easier for a family members to come without missing work, etc.
We are so pround of her!  It feels like we are in a different stage of parenthood now that our oldest has been baptized.  Like the issues we are dealing with now and in the years to come are much different (and do I dare say more difficult?) than the things we struggled with when our kids were little.  It's almost like we can't claim to be young parents anymore though I definitely still feel young.  Our kids are older so we must be too, right?  Spencer is 35 now so I guess now we're mid-30's parents.  I don't know.  Just rambling...
Moving on.  My dad came from Mesa.  Thanks, Dad!  It was fun to spend the weekend with him. 
And Spencer's mom came from Oregon.  She stayed for a week and the kids were in heaven!  Truthfully, we all were!  We loved having her here and we really appreciated that she was here with us even though she may have wanted to rush off to see Holly and Mark's newest little one who was born during her stay with us.  Don't worry, she went to be with them when she left Texas.  We're hoping we can figure out a way to get Paul and Sandi to retire wherever we live.  Maybe we need to convince Spencer's siblings and their families to move here too.  It's pretty nice here, guys...come on...who's in??

Monday, July 16, 2012

Blogging again

I'm breaking my blog silence.  It's been long enough, right?  Not that it was intentional.  We had some technical difficulties (broken computer) that was the start of my blog neglect.  Then I got my iPhone.  Do you have one?  Does it make you feel like you almost never need to sit down at the computer ever again??  Well, that's how it is with me.  But no more.  I really like documenting what's going on with us this way so I am vowing to get back into it.

For starters, here are a couple pictures from Madeleine's and Ian's performance in The Sound of Music.  The YMCA has a Performing Arts program that put this on.  For a couple months they went to rehearsal 3 times a week to prepare for the show in May.  They had a good time, but I think they were ready for it to be over.  Three rehearsals a week got to be a lot.  It was for me, too.  I'm glad they got a taste of doing a play.  I'll be interested to see if they have any desire to do that sort of thing as they get older.

Madeleine had two roles: Sister Margaretta (obviously in this picture) and Romy, a made-up Von Trapp daughter who is just younger than Liesl.  They had to create parts to fit the children in the performance.  I think there were 12 or 13 Von Trapp children instead of the usual 7. :)
Ian played Kurt.  He was adorable.  We were originally just going to put Madeleine in the play.  As we discussed it more and more she was leaning toward not doing it at all (which would have been fine) but then Ian asked if he could do it.  He was adamant that he wanted to do it, so Madeleine came around and decided to do it too.

Here's what I liked about it: It got them involved in something cultural and exposed to a wonderful musical.  I love The Sound of Music!  We liked them being busy.  At times I hated how busy we were, but in general it was good for them to be out doing something productive than at home trying to watch too much tv.  Ian is very outgoing and comfortable in most settings, but this challenged Madeleine by getting her out of her comfort zone and they both were able to make new friends.  And the director had lots of good things to say about them.  You always think your kids are pretty great, but it's nice to hear it from an outside source from time to time.

What I didn't like as much was that the performance ended up being a glorified rehearsal.  The director was out on stage some and giving lines a lot.  But I completely understand.  There was one adult in charge, the director.  She had a couple teenage assistants and one mom who was very helpful (not me) and all the children in the play were under 12 years old.  A tough job, I'm sure.  Anyway, overall it was a good experience.

Keep this little blog on your radar because you know after six months not blogging, I've got loads to come!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

These kids...

  • Alayna is a bit of a thief.  At our gym, the kids get a numbered sticker on their back when their parents check them in.  My sweet baby makes her way around the other kids swiping stickers as she goes.  If one of the children tries to get away from her, she boldly persists till she's accomplished her goal.  The attendants in the kid's club fondly refer to her as "Swiper."

  • Madeleine and Ian helped themselves to some stickers we had stashed away and were putting them on themselves, empty soda bottles, etc.  Ian had one on the front of his shoulder and Alayna reeeaaalllly wanted it.  Her method at first was to tug on his sleeve with all her might, which is sayin' something.  The girl's got some strength.  But Ian is strong too and was able to shake her off.  So what did she do next?  She turned the tugging into hugging and when she was near enough, that sticker became hers.

  • I was in my room "working" on the computer while the kids played in the backyard.  I heard what could have been crying, but I'm not the mom that goes running out at that sound so I kept working.  Soon I heard Ian come in, snoop around in the kitchen, grab a snack and then he slowly made his way to my room.  I think he was supposed to be "rushing" to tell me Madeleine was hurt.  Good thing it wasn't serious because that message was not delivered with much urgency today.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We had a really wonderful Christmas!  The kids were thrilled with all their gifts, which is what pleases us the most.  Madeleine seems happiest to now have a her very own Snuggie and a gigantic pillow pet.  Though Ian wanted a Nintendo DS (we assured him he wouldn't get that) he's super happy that we got several new games for our Wii and more remotes too. 
Spencer surprised me with a new camera and I have to admit, I couldn't be happier about it!  Ian had to hold his smile for a minute while I got my bearings, hence why the smile looks so painful and fake and actually not like a smile.
The giant pillow pets.  Grandma Montelius, these are from you.
Alayna got this sweet trike and Madeleine and Ian got new bikes too.
We had planned to go to the Children's Museum on Christmas Eve like we did last year, but since Ian had an ear infection we spent that whole morning at Walgreens in the clinic to get medicine.  So instead of wasting our passes when we'd only get to spend a couple hours there, we went a couple days after Christmas instead.  I'm certain it was much busier than it would have been two days earlier, but we had so much fun anyway.  I took this picture on the way there.
Alayna on the pulley seat.  You're supposed to try all three to see which pulley makes it easiest to pull yourself up.
On this one there's a camera that takes three photos of you doing three different poses.  Then it plays it back and you match your moves.  It gets a little tougher as it speeds up.
I think this is the Power Tower or something like that.  It'a a 3 story high climbing structure.  Adults are welcome and I did it, but it wasn't roomy.  Fun, but a tight squeeze in places.
"Tw-ITCH-er"  This section was all about lice, mosquitoes, bed bugs and one other bug I can't remember.  So this version of Twister would say Right Hand Bed Bug, etc.  You could also look at each bug under a microscope and learn lots of interesting facts about them in other parts of the exhibit.  These few pics are a tiny sample of all they have to offer at the Children's Museum.  We love that place!   

I didn't get pictures of it, but the day after Christmas we went down to Galveston and went to Schlitterbahn to experience the indoor waterpark.  It was pretty cold that day (for us) so even though the water is heated, it still felt really, really crazy to be running around in swimsuits and getting wet.  Once we got going, and especially when it warmed up a little in the afternoon, we had a really great time!  Perhaps this will be the beginning of a new tradition?  We'll see.