pictures worth a thousand words

Collin has a thing for trains, especially Thomas the Tank Engine. Check out these fun pictures in succession as he opens his first ever Thomas the Tank Engine set for Christmas!
Libby helps Collin open his Thomas the Tank Engine Set. Right now Libby looks more excited about it than Collin does!

This one is my all-time favorite! Realization dawns. Don't you just love the expression on his face! Classic little boy Christmas excitement!

Collin lovingly caresses the box while Libby helps remove the final wrappings.

This one isn't Thomas-related, but I still loved it! Collin desperately wanted a Spiderman from Santa. At the ward Christmas party, he confidently asked Santa for a Spiderman and was rather dismayed when Santa only offered him a candy cane! We had to explain to a somewhat confused Collin that Santa doesn't actually have the presents ready until Christmas Eve. Here he proudly shows off his long-awaited Spiderman to Mom with Julia.

a merr-wii christmas

At last! Libby, Bailey, and Julia finally in possession of the coveted Wii! They were, in a word, excited. Bailey was the first one up Christmas morning at 5:00 am [not including when I told him to get back to bed after I heard him creaking down the stairs near midnight] and the rest were up at 6:00. They were allowed to explore their stocking fare, but the family rule is that we open gifts all together. Bailey and Libby had already scoped out a box that they thought might contain a Wii [we had told them we might not have it in time for Christmas, just to keep them in suspense]. Just as soon as it was opened, it was out of the box and Owen was getting it set up. They spent most of Christmas day taking turns playing the various games they had selected.

Here Libby practices along with High School Musical, with Julia wielding a Wii remote to perform the background percussion for her. She's getting pretty good at the songs now! I think I will have them all memorized myself before too much longer. Maybe when the kids go to bed I'll have to take over the mike and see how I fare. Actually, I will most likely have to wait until Owen beats the current Wii game he's playing. It was hard getting him to take his turns like everyone else yesterday! And when the kids went to bed he kept playing until bedtime. Fine by me-it finally gave me a chance to try out my new Nintendo DS [from Owen] with a really fun vocabulary builder game that Santa slipped into my stocking.


in the days before christmas

Some things we've been up to while preparing for Christmas!

  • attended Julia's Christmas program [the above picture is Julia coming down from the stage with her class after their performance]
  • watched two adaptation of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" [a holiday favorite of ours-the kids swear that the black and white version is way spookier]
  • watched "Little Women" several times [a holiday and everyday favorite of the girls in the house]
  • Aisha spent two weeks scheduling for and running the 4th grade field trip fundraiser at school-Santa's Secret Shop and the kids came in every morning the shop was open to help set up and be my crowd control and price check assistants
  • getting busy in the kitchen making a variety of candy and treats for neighbors, ward members, and for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
  • driving around town delivering treats and treating ourselves to the beautiful Christmas lights around the neighborhoods
  • Aisha and Collin got to attend two class parties on the last day of school-we just went from one right to the next bringing treats
  • Libby and Aisha made pom-pom pets [by American Girl] for Libby's teacher and friends at school


how old is your brain?

It all started with Libby. A couple of months ago, she earned and saved enough money to buy a used Nintendo DS. Since I don't allow unrestricted access to video games [whether or not they bought it with their own funds] the DS is stored in my closet until she has permission to use it. It sits right where I can see it every day when I walk inside.
One night I am running errands and Christmas shopping by myself at Target and suddenly I find myself perusing the video games. I stop in front of the DS games and right at eye level is Brain Age. I've heard about Brain Age before. Adults play Brain Age. I, too, am an adult. And I love brain teasers, games, and sudoku, all of which are included in Brain Age. I have access to a Nintendo DS. I decide to buy my first ever video game. I'm feeling younger already.

And I'm hooked! I love competing with myself [and other family members] for the high score. One game card allows you to have four files on it, so Owen, Bailey, and Libby have been playing as well. There are daily training segments, and the more days that you train, the more games and options that are opened to you. And of course there is the namesake Brain Age Check. I currently hold the household high score of 24 [not too bad for a 35 year old mom 'o four]. The best Brain Age is 20, because apparently when we are 20 our minds are as sharp as they're going to get. And if you think about that fact for too long, it gets a little scary! The lowest score is 80. I'm determined to [someday] get to that score of 20. And I'll make sure and let you know when that happens!
Find out more about Brain Age at their website. I've already got my eye on Brain Age 2!


the perfect family

Wishing You a Perfect Christmas! by Jeff Holmes Photography

My cousin Jeff Holmes [not to be confused with my brother of the same name] entered this photo in a holiday card competition and won in the Funniest category!

Congratulations to Jeff and his wife Chanel for a brilliant joint effort! As winners, their card will be sold in a pack of cards containing all the winning entries. So, basically their family's picture will be sent everywhere this Christmas! So awesome. It's making my Christmas cards look pretty lame.

I think my favorite part is the hilarious look on Lake's face! He's a total ham. And Libby looks very comfy nestled in the crook of her dad's arm. Check out Jeff's flickr link for more good stuff! And click on this flickr link to see all the winning entries and runners-up.


the annual cousin photo shoot

We have a tradition in our family. Every Christmas we gather all of my siblings' children [including our own], dress them in coordinated clothes provided by Grammie, and have a photo shoot. This year we have The Big Twelve--12 cousins, all of varying ages ranging from just a few months to 12 years old. It's always an interesting event to behold, as the two and three year olds generally provide the most frustration and amusement! This year we had 3 two-to-three year-olds [Ruby, Barrett, & Collin], so the fun was, as you might suspect, non-stop.

Collin [3], Libby [9], Bailey [12], Julia [7]

We started things off with sibling groups, just for fun. Here's my favorite of our bunch. Isn't Collin quite the little man in his suit! [While he was getting dressed that morning, he kept talking about wearing his "soup." Well, at dinner time he's not too far off the mark!] We did everyone's families separately, then gathered the whole lot of them together for the Big Group Shot. And that's when things predictably started falling apart!

I was taking candids off to the side-the kids are looking at Grammie's camera. Everyone looks good here except the two little boys! They finally buckled under the pressure of the paparazzi and just couldn't take any more. They sobbed throughout most of the group shot [they're on either end]. Hopefully Grammie got some better ones than I did! I did manage to get Ruby [in the white dress] in the shot just before she ran off again. She was in and out the whole time-it was pretty funny trying to get her to stay put for long!

Over the years we've just learned that there's nothing we can do, so we just focus on the fact that we're just keeping things real by capturing them as they are.

Plus, there's always next year!

honor roll

Congratulations to Libby for making the Superintendent's Honor Roll at school for the first trimester! Way to go! By the way, the Superintendent's Honor Roll is a cut above the regular honor roll, so Libby is really putting forth her best efforts in school. We are very proud of her!


happy 7th birthday julia!

Our little bitty Julia is 7 now! Here she is, gearing up for the big blow-out. We had chocolate cake and cake batter ice cream from Coldstone to mark the big day. Plus, I brought one of Julia's favorite snacks for her class today: chocolate chip cookies and milk! The kids really seemd to enjoy it. After school we headed over to the mall so she could redeem her Build-a-Bear gift cards! It was our first experience with Build-a-Bear and it was fun! We may have to do it again!

Step one: Choose your bear! Julia immediately fell in love with the koala bear-there was really no contest as to what the bear would be!

Step two: Stuff your bear! She even got to put a special red heart inside her bear that she kissed and made a wish on. Very cute. Then comes the fluff, and you can fluff as little or as much as you desire.

Step three: Dress your bear! Julia enlists Libby's fashion advice and selects an outfit, shoes, pajamas, and accessories for her bear.

And here's the finished product, all ready for Christmas! Her name is Alaa. You know, as in Ko-ala, and also the name of a friend in her class. [At least she didn't spell it a certain, ah, Islamic way and get herself in trouble with the government. Oh, that's right. We live in America!] Julia had a fun 7th birthday, spent just the way she likes! Except for the fact that she did in fact have to go to school and do her homework. I guess there are some advantages to summer birthdays after all. . .

today's quote

Seen on a t-shirt worn by a toddler at the mall after our visit to Build-a-Bear:

"What happens at Grandma's, stays at Grandma's."

'Nuff said.