Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wie gehts and Auf Wiedersehen

Hello to:
Hello to first snow fall. The kids were so excited to go play in the snow and especially loved it that school was delayed by two hours for two days. Chloe loved eating the snow and watching the kids outside play in it. Hello to cute little buns. Chloe's hair is getting quite long and I think I even see the slightest bit of curl in it when it is down. Now that I found that her hair is long enough for buns you can usually see her with two little mini buns or cute little piggies.
Heritage Collection Maple Hardwood Floors
Hello to beautiful refinished hardwood maple floors. We moved out of our house Thanksgiving week and joined houses again with the Cox Family (only this time we were crashing their house) while a refinishing company came and did an amazing job on our water damaged hardwood floors. After a seven days of being gone from home our house still smelled from the oil finish but it was worth every headache (literally). A couple of days later all of our carpeted floors were cleaned wrapping up the last of the flood damage repair.
Good bye to:
Alysee said goodbye to her first tooth. She has been waiting for that moment for years. Last year in school her teacher had a chart on the wall where each child got their name when they lost a tooth. Alysee was the ONLY one to NOT get her name on the wall. Ami did a great job pulling out Alysee's tooth. Good bye bunny. Oreo, the Easter bunny rabbit, found a new home two weeks ago. Mom was getting tired of reminding the kids to feed and play with rabbit but the final straw was when it got below zero outside and the bunny had to be moved into the garage. I couldn't stand the smell!!! It was awful.

But the last last straw was when Oreo took a little chop out of Chloe's cute little chubby fingers. Well, it might have been the cage that sliced her finger but either way it was so sad when she stood there crying holding her bloody finger. We cleaned her finger up and then called the doctor's office to find out if she was at risk of any "bunny disease." She ended up going on an antibiotic because her finger got a bit swollen and looked like it was possibly getting infected. She's totally fine now, though.

We found another gullible family at church who's daughter pleaded with them to be the new owners. As far as a pet goes I can't knock down Oreo. When outside we never once cleaned up poop and during the summer we had fresh food coming out our ears from the garden to feed him. I even feel a little wasteful when I throw away my cucumber peels or apple cores now.
Good bye Christmas programs. We spent several hours this past month going from Christmas concert, to Christmas play, to band concert, to piano recital. As you can tell from the picture these were all highlights to Nate. : )
Goodbye to an odd year -- no more 36, 34 (yes, I know that is not an odd number), 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1.

It's been a good one!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas in a nutshell

I love this picture Alysee drew of a Christmas party. Not only is it so detailed with mistletoe, kisses, and cute couples but it also shows how much my kids LOVE the Christmas season.

I had actually been feeling a little grumpy as Christmas approached. Kind of a "okay this has been fun but let's get it over with" feeling. The Christmas tree needles had been dropping all over the floor for weeks, I was getting tired of the 435 Christmas songs on the Ipod, and all the Christmas preparations were wearing me down a bit (not to mention all the extra cleaning that goes on when the kids are home 24/7).

Anyway, Christmas Eve Birch got home from work a bit early (which ALWAYS helps my spirits) and then I got to go have a little ME time before all the evening festivities began. By 5 pm our counter was full of all the chosen foods for the Christmas Eve Smorgasbord. We had breaded shrimp, fresh shrimp, green salad, homemade pizza, Italian Soda's, sweet n' sour meatballs, salsa and chips, broccoli cheese dip and crackers, grapes, eggnog, and homemade rolls. We filled up on all the yummy food and drinks and then started the evening fun.
Next up was our tradition of decorating a family gingerbread house. In order to cut down on conflict (aka. fights) we had each of the kids decorate a side of the house. It was fun to see the end result.
Then we sang some carols and had our family nativity. I'm not sure what Alysee is going to do with Chloe is big enough to voice her opinion of wanting to be Mary. Until then Alysee will bask in her Mary glow and love delivering baby Jesus.
Coop elected to be the angel again this year. He sure makes a cute one!
Chloe enjoyed most of the evening until she was told she couldn't have any more candy from the gingerbread house. This girl LOVES candy!!! Cute outfit, I know.

Christmas morning started WAY too early. Several times throughout the night we had different kids coming up to our room for various reasons (growing pains, need to go potty, can we open presents yet?). At 5:30 am Alex came busting in ready to start the day. We sent him back to bed until 6:30 am but I'm not sure any of us got any sleep after 5:30 am. The kids loved going through their stockings and seeing what Santa brought them but were even more anxious to open the presents.

Tyler thought his remote control flyer thing was super cool.
Alex was super giddy about the Beaver poster Tyler gave him. Keeping with tradition the kids all drew their siblings name's several weeks prior and then earned $5.00 from mom and dad through doing jobs to go shopping for their sibling. They also did a service for that person and made a homemade gift for them. Tyler was amazing this year and wanted to several extra jobs so he could make some additional purchases for Alex. Alex really scored through the love of his brother!!

By 9:30 am we were done opening presents and all the kids were off playing with their new toys and changing into their new outfits. Birch and I were busy taking down the Christmas tree (like I was really dead), making our special lunch of extra yummy breakfast foods, and packing the car to head to Grannie's house. We were on the road at 1:30 pm and arrived at Grannie's just in time to devour a delicious Christmas dinner of deep fat fried turkey. It was so yummy!
Here we are...just about the whole Ditto clan. Andrew has a couple of more months of his mission but the other 36 of us were all there.
Most of the cousin boys in their new hats from Grannie.
Grannie is so kind, patient and fun with all the grand kids. As they tear through her house, eating all the treats they can find, using up all her paper for drawing, and making more noise than you can imagine she just smiles and loves them. They each know they are loved by Grannie.

Did I mention that Grannie's house is one crazy, joyful, and yummy place to be? The 21 cousins are all running around like they have a bee in their bum while us adults are changing diapers, catching up with each other, playing games, and cooking food. We all have so much fun together that no one likes to go to sleep at night...sometimes that is a problem. This year was extra special because a new cousin joined the family.
Meet Henry...he is seven weeks old and well-loved by his mommy and daddy, Logan and Julia. We had the treat of being in town for his baby blessing (kind of like a Christening). He was just so cute and SO good. I think I only heard him whisper this little whimper like one time. Unreal!!
Birch, Logan, and I had fun doing a little photo shoot of Henry. I noticed that as much as I enjoyed holding Henry I didn't have any "I need a baby" feelings. It felt nice.

We got home Tuesday afternoon just in time for the snow to start falling.
The kids have been busy sledding and drinking hot chocolate ever since then. Alysee lovin' a good ride!

It's been a great Christmas break and we have enjoyed several fun family outings. We've all loved having Birch home more too.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Let us not forget our bounty

We can't ring in the new year without bragging a bit about our bountiful garden. It's truly amazing the way the Lord can bless you with just a little desire to grow a garden. If only more than Birch enjoyed eating it up. Actually there are a few things that the rest of us enjoy but the majority is eaten by Birch or given away.

We had lemon boy/ little sunrise orange/roma tomatoes, basil, green beans, sugar snap peas, red/green/yellow peppers, butternut and delicata squash, garlic, onions, watermelon, lemon cucumbers, burpless cucumbers, cantaloupe, carrots, rosemary, thyme, and pumpkins.
Chloe "riding" the prize watermelon.
One happy gardener!
As a family we picked 300 pounds of white flesh peaches and then Birch and I canned 57 quart jars. Earlier in the season we picked TONS of Queen's Ann cherries which we ate and pitted to freeze for winter smoothies.
I think we picked near 300 pounds of apples. Most of them we have given away or eaten. I do have several boxes in the garage that are still waiting to be made into applesauce.
Our pumpkins weren't as huge as in years past but we had enough for the whole family.
Chloe LOVED the little sunrise tomatoes. You could often find her in the garden shoving them into her little face.
Nate was very proud of his choice of pumpkin. I've got a couple of pumpkins in the garage waiting to be made into pumpkin bread and pie.

We feel so blessed to live in an area that has such a long growing season and to have had so many opportunities for cheap or free produce. Come visit us next summer and I'll make you a mean salsa!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

O-S-U, Oregon State...fight...fight...fight

We may not get to personally attend any OSU games but our hearts were there. Well honestly, mine wasn't really there but it was fun to have a reason to party. Birch and the boys looked forward to several big games this season. I tried really hard to surprise Birch with a trip to Vegas for the BYU-OSU game but it was just too spendy. We partied away as a family that night with some other BYU fan friends.

Nate is such a great athelete!
Here we are in all our OSU gear!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas came a bit early

I just had to share this beautiful gift that my dad made for us this year for Christmas. We brought it back with us after Thanksgiving and Birch did some of the final work of painting and putting the hinges on. I love how this makes the TV a little more discrete and more of just a nice piece of furniture. Thanks dad!!! I feel honored to have one of your wood projects in our home.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The BIG 1-8

Sometimes I just have to pinch myself because I start getting a loopy over how cute this little girl is. Chloe just turned 18 months today and as you can tell we think she is just about as cute as they come.
Her recent stats:

Height: 29 3/4 in. (9% national growth curve)
Weight: (18 lb. 9 oz. (1% national growth curve)
Head Circumference: 46 cm (37% national growth curve)
Teeth: A whole dang bunch of them (she's got all four molars and several other teeth starting to poke through)

Though Chloe is full of sweetness she can also be a little terrorist too. I can almost count on her pulling out any cute hair du that I have done while we are driving to church. She yells "daddy" all throughout sacrament meeting in hopes of getting her daddy's attention and getting a little wave out of him. She's sure to get into Alysee's special treasures each day and also find any candy that might have been tucked away or even has figured out how to get the candy canes off of the Christmas tree.

She's a bit stingy with her kisses but you better watch out when she decides to unload them; she'll smother you to pieces. Chloe may be a little cute shrimp but she amazes the pediatric doctor each time we are in with how strong she is (ie. will not allow the doctor to touch her, put her stethoscope on her, make her lay down, etc...). She demands to feed herself which often leads to a bath.

Chloe is talking up a storm...and we even can understand most of her words. She uses a few signs (thanks to Aunti Emi teaching them to her) but also says the words at the same time (thank you, done, more). She rattles off most everyone's names in the family when asked to and can point to most body parts. She makes some great animal and car sounds and likes to be in the middle of what is going on.

Chloe is very attached to her pacifier and a nighttime bottle, both of which we are going to be taking away after Christmas. Her teeth are being affected so though it will be painful for all of us it is time to say goodbye to those treasured comfort items. She also loves her pink blanket that Ami made for her.

You'll often find her hauling around a baby or a permanent marker (of course everyone always says that they did not leave it out) or trying to sneak a fruit snack. She's starting to like people better though hasn't done well in nursery so far. She's just about down to one nap a day and will nap for three or four hours. Chloe loves dancing and reading stories with mommy.
Gotta love this girl!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

He's a NUT!!

This kid is full of stories (most of them are tales of when he was ten years old or when he was a "bigger brother"). Generally he is such a happy kid and seems to say lots of things that keep us all chuckling.

Lately he has been LOADING up on the shirts. Yesterday he told me he was "going to surprise me" with how many shirts he had on; he ended up totaling five shirts--frontwards, backwards, long sleeve, short sleeve. He was one warm (and fat) kid.
This past month Coop has been standing looking out the dining room window toward the garden very longingly. He frequently asks me with a sigh, "When will my penis grow?" He is quite enthralled with his private parts. Anyway, he asks me this question several times a week while looking out the window.

The other day it finally hit me. About a month ago Coop (who truly DOES love peanuts) decided that he wanted to plant some in the garden. He has been regularly watering them and looking for any plant growth. What Coop had really been saying all these times was, "When will my PEANUTS grow?"

I think we'll be working on his pronunciation.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Am I dying?

I know this may sound a bit morbid but I've actually wondered the past couple of months if perhaps I was going to die soon since I have had the treat of seeing so much family lately. You know when someone dies and people always say, "Well, it was sure nice that she got to see so much family recently." Ever since the beginning of November our house has been filled with visiting extended family members. Then for Thanksgiving we were able to see more family while in Oregon. It's been so fun!!!
First off was a wonderful visit from my sister, Emily and her darling bald daughter Sage from Philadelphia. Emily came to be a team with my mom while Birch and I were vacationing carefree in Hawaii.
Emily is such a good mommy. All the kids loved being with her. My time was limited with Emily before our departure but I savored every minute.
Then my mom arrived just in time to hold the tradition of pulling out teeth. I'll have to post more on this later because it was a REALLY big deal for Alysee since this was her first tooth she lost. My mom brought fun activities for the kids to do while we were away and really made them feel each loved. I love my mom!
The following weekend my big brother Matt and his daughter flew in for the weekend for a quick visit. We had such a good time together. We haven't been able to spend much time with Sofia so it was especially fun to get to know her better.
The girls all loved being with each other. Alysee hauled around Sofi just like she was her big sister.
Little blast from the past...Matt and I have a lot of memories with each other. We shared a room until I was 10 years old and I always made sure to sneak Matt food when he was sent to bed without out dinner.
Matt's still got it going on!! He has always been a GREAT dancer and showed us while visiting that he still has got the moves. The kids loved their time with Matt.
Sofi was just a sweetheart! The only thing missing from this trip was Jessica. We're sure hoping that this becomes an annual trip but with Jessica along for the fun next year!
Ryan (Emily's husband) was next to arrive. Ryan flew out from Philly to do some job/residency dental interviews. Ryan is one of the most pleasant and sincere guys I know. I think I love him so much because I see the happiness that he has brought my sister Emily. We're hoping they have seen the ***light*** and will join us in this blessed town we live in.
The following weekend Grannie arrived. Alex had been begging Grannie to come visit for a long weekend for months. Grannie has always been so supportive of our family events and attended each one of them, though her visits have been so short. It was so nice to have her here with us for several days. The kids favorite part was the HOURS of games they did together. Birch and I are not game people so they love the special attention they receive from Grannie. We even had a great day going bowling together. Come back soon!!
Next we were off to Oregon to see my parents for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving day POURED rain but we stayed cozy inside playing and eating yummy food. I wish I had a picture of my mom and I when we hit the road on Black Friday at 4:45 AM. It was so fun to spend the wee early hours of the morning with my mom and all the other crazy shoppers. The kids especially enjoyed some extra time with Poppi since his visits are short and far between.
Alex and Poppi were hard at work in the shop for a good chunk of the weekend working on this beautiful present (a cabinet to go over our flat screen wall-mounted tv) for Birch and me. Alex loved all the time with Poppi.
Then to top it off my Grandma and Grandpa Howe drove down to join us all for Thanksgiving as well. I'm so glad my kids have had several opportunities to rub shoulders with these wonderful people.

My grandma and the kids loved making Thanksgiving rolls together.

I'm so thankful that I am surrounded by so much family that love each other. I know not everyone is blessed with such strong unity or a love of being together. Keep the visits coming!!!