Sunday, November 27, 2016

Their First Real Tree

A few months ago, I started thinking about Christmas.  This is typical of moms, I think, but this year my thinking centered around our Christmas tree.  We have a large artificial tree that my mom and dad found for us when Ben was a baby, and we always look forward to putting it up . . . as early in the season as we can get away with.
But I was thinking, specifically, about when I was younger, living at home, and how we often had a real tree.  My dad would cut the top off of a tree, or find a tree that we weren't crazy about and insist it was perfect.  But one of my favorite Christmas memories is of a year that we went with our dad to a Christmas tree farm and cut down our own tree.
I remember running from tree to tree with my sisters, saying things like, "Come and see this one!"  or "This is the one!" or "How about this one?"  It sounds kind of repetitive, but it was so fun!
So, I mentioned to Jason that we need to do this with our kids THIS YEAR.  I really wanted them to have this experience--I knew they would love it.
I researched "how early is not too early to get a real tree?" and found that any time from mid-November on is fair game.
Since this weekend is considered the beginning of the Christmas season, I (I mean "we") made a plan to go and get our tree after the various activities that had to be attended and completed in the morning.
The only problem was, it was POURING with rain.  It just kept coming down without a break, and Jason (who thought we had too much to do to go get a tree anyway) started pushing for waiting another week.
I didn't give up, though.  Jason had told me about a tree farm that was close by, so I looked it up . . . and found another one that had an incredible deal: any size and type of tree for only $35.  Since we'd heard that live trees are often more than twice that amount, I started thinking we should go right away--before all the good ones were gone :)
So, at about 3:30, we headed out to start our adventure--and nobody was disappointed.
The farm was not too far away, the trees were beautiful, and we all ran from place to place shouting things like, "Come and see this one!"

The rain still poured down, but it didn't bother us at all.
(Although Jason might have preferred drier ground to lie down on, he didn't complain.)
Once the tree was cut, Alaina counted the rings to see how old it was, and it happened to be seven--the same age she is.
We picked what we all agreed was the perfect tree for our house.
And everyone helped pull it to Jason's truck.
We had to let it sit on the porch for an hour or so to dry off--I have never seen a wetter tree--and then even after we got it in, we had to hold off on putting the lights and decorations on because it was still so wet.
But after church today we got started!
There is something so special about having a real tree that we picked out together,
in the rain,
the first weekend of Christmas . . .
Hopefully it will last until New Year's!

Monday, October 31, 2016

2016 Halloween Awards

This Halloween we had the perfect night for trick or treating.  Even though it had POURED with rain all day,
the weather cleared up at about 3:00, and by the time we went out, it was warm and dry enough for us to be comfortable--but still foggy enough to be a little spooky.
Our neighborhood was also great--lots of houses with lights on and porches decorated, friendly people, and families out trick-or-treating.  We didn't see any blood and gore or smashed pumpkins--and people who left bowls of candy unattended outside reported that trick-or-treaters were respectful, taking only the two or three treats that they were instructed to take.
But it wasn't just the weather, or the neighborhood, that cooperated--our kids each added his or her own personality to our Halloween, making it a fun night for everyone.
In fact, if I could give out "Halloween Awards," I would name
Janae and Ben the most creative pumpkin carvers this year.
Janae took what she felt was a disastrous "BOO" and made it into a cute kitty,
and Ben turned his pumpkin around this year to make an elephant . . . or a Heffalump :)
Ben would also need an award for "best sportsmanship," since he talked Janae into going trick-or-treating.  Janae was tired from school and stressed about Halloween, but her big brother gave her the extra support she needed to get to the first door . . . and after that she was as enthusiastic as anyone.
Eric would need an award for the "chattiest trick-or-treater," since he had a conversation with everyone in the neighborhood during the hour he was out.
He complimented people on their porch decorations, talked to them about his candy and costume, their candy and costumes, and even told some other kids, "I'll see you at the finish line!"
Earlier in the day, he'd also had the pumpkins talking to each other.  When he put his jack-o-lantern on the porch beside Alaina's uncarved pumpkin, he told me Alaina's had said, "You have a great smile!" to his.
Eric was also the most curious,
and the least "greedy"--at the last house he went to, he said, "Thank you.  But I don't need anymore candy now." 
He came home with me and lined up all his candies--then watched Pooh's Heffalump Halloween.
When the rest of the kids got home another hour later, they also examined their goodies--making trades and eating more than the suggested "two,"
but Alaina definitely gets the award for the "best sorting and organization."
She spent a good half hour lining up her candies and then placing them neatly back into her Little Red Riding Hood basket.
 She won't have any trouble finding her favorites in the morning!
Alaina was also our most easy-going Halloween participant, accepting Eric's second pumpkin as her own when the big round one she picked out a couple of weeks ago ended up being too soft to carve. 
And Janae needs one more award for the most costume changes--after school she switched her Athena dress and cape for a poodle skirt.  She also helped Peaches change into a pumpkin suit . . . but that didn't last long.
These kids definitely made it a Happy Halloween for each other, and for their parents, too! 
Now, hopefully tomorrow morning will go just as well when they all have to get up for school. . . .

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Some People Just Belong in a Pumpkin Patch

We are lucky to have a pumpkin patch in our town that has apples, pumpkins and animals, has free admission, AND is on the way home from the girls' school. 
Our kids have visited the farm countless times over the years, and all of them feel pretty at home there.
BUT one of our children just looks like he BELONGS in the pumpkin patch--a little more than the others.
I'm not sure if it's the orange jacket,
his orange hair,
his fascination with tractors,
his happiness around animals,
his love of pumpkins (he always wants to hug and kiss ours goodbye before we go anywhere),
or just the fact that he's home with me all day and can go to the pumpkin patch while the other kids are at school,
but this boy just sort of blends in :)
I guess some people just belong in a pumpkin patch!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Seven on the First Day of School

Being born September 6, Alaina was bound to have her birthday on the first day of school sooner or later....
Yesterday was the first--but probably not the last--time it happened!
Since Alaina wanted to go to the zoo for her special day, we had to do that ahead of time.  The zoo has always been one of her favorite places.  We had a family pass when she was two and three (we went all the time when the other kids were at school!) but we hadn't been back since then. 
So, on Saturday we got a new membership and spent the day there.  Alaina especially wanted to see the giraffes, and we were able to do that.
We also got a great view of the lions this time, and Shadow the bear was out, too.  It was one of the best days for animal viewing we'd ever had at the zoo!

Eric, though, had only one thing on his mind: the train.  Our turn to ride finally came at 12:30.
Of course, no trip to the zoo would be complete for Alaina without a visit to the gift shop!  She used her own money this time, though, to buy a little Siberian tiger Beenie Baby.
Then yesterday the festivities continued with Alaina off to school carrying her new backpack and indoor shoes :)
I was happy to hear her teacher say, "Here's the birthday girl!"  Even though it was the first day, she had a card and gift ready for Alaina, making her feel remembered and special. 
She enjoyed being in Grade 2, and we had a giraffe balloon for her waiting in the car afterwards.
When we got home, Grandma and Grandpa came over to help with Alaina's birthday dinner request: TURKEY with all the trimmings.  On the first day of school!  But with lots of help we made it happen.  Grandma and Grandpa also gave Alaina a set of several pairs of earrings . . . since she'd got her ears pierced last month as an early birthday present.  (She also got her American Girl doll's ears pierced as part of her gift!)
Jason called home and told Alaina to listen to the radio--he had called the local country music station and dedicated a song to Alaina called "My Daughter's Father."  Alaina had a big smile on her face when she heard Jason on the radio, telling them it was her birthday and wishing her a happy day.
Alaina's friend from school came by with a card and gift, then Auntie Tina and her family came over with more gifts to help us celebrate.
Even though we had to get to bed early for the SECOND day of school, it was a fun day of celebrating our special girl who we love so much.  Hopefully it will be the start of a great year for Alaina!


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Not the Same?

Last August, at the end of our year-long membership at Fort Langley, we took our kids camping there for the first time. 

They really loved it and wanted to go back and do it again.

This summer, though, I thought it might be nice to go somewhere different--try somewhere new.  Fort Langley is great, but we have been there many, many times--and there is also a very loud train that goes by the fort about every half hour all night long (I remembered this well, because last year it woke Eric--and, therefore, me--up EVERY TIME!).
The kids, though, begged and begged to go back.  Finally I gave in and booked us into the same cabin (O-tent-ic, to be more precise) on the same weekend as our last visit.
"Here we go again," I thought, "same old camping trip as last year" (you have to imagine this spoken in Eeyore's voice to get the full effect).
But, really, it was very fun--and hardly at all the same!
This year, after many hours of debate about who would get to sleep on the top bunk . . .
Last year

This year
Ben finally won out over Alaina.  (Janae had it last year.)
Janae and Alaina set up all the beds with PJs for everyone, finally deciding to put the argument aside and make the camping trip the "best vacation ever."
Last year the kids rode their bikes around the fort the entire evening and into the night, carrying their flashlights long after dark.
This year, they developed the "Bicycle Olympics," which was much more challenging, even if it didn't last as long.
Best of all, Eric actually rode his own bike!
We also had a lot more dressing up this year--with Eric, Alaina, Ben, and Jason joining in the fun.



  The girls insisted, though, on doing some things the same--like reading outside with Daddy . . . Harry Potter and the Cursed Child this year; whereas last year it was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire :)

So, as you can see--it was . . . really not that different.
 The kids even want to go back again next year, so pretty much exactly the same!  Stay tuned for more Fort Langley pictures from the summer of 2017, I guess :)  I'm sure everyone will be a little bit taller. . . .