Sunday, December 30, 2007

Here are the kids with their Laser Dart Guns from Grandpa Croshaw - the HIT toy of the year! Grandpa brought two (as well as some other gifts), but I bought two more the next day, because they ALL wanted to play together! I also bought 30 extra darts - umm...I've picked up them up about 100 times already. Did I just buy myself more work?
Here we are in front of our new fish tank. We're watching the FISH! (see picture below) This next week, we'll go back and let the kids each choose their own. I know...Betas eat other fish. Don't worry, no betas. But, definitely a tank-cleaning fish. If my house can't be clean, at least my tank can be.
Here are the kids at the fish store! I went out on the morning of the 26th to be with the Wixom Girls for Rosemary's birthday! Sara, Liz, Susannah, Mary (little Margaret, too) and I met up at the Tysons Corner mall, where we shopped and had a delicious Italian lunch together.

The kids went to find some hearty fish that might survive in the water until the trial week was up, when we could get some REALLY cool fish! They came home with 3 Red-eye tetras. The kids love to just check in with the fish as they walk by. Great gift, Mimi and Papa!
Here are the kids at their little "kid table". They eat breakfast here, do play doh, coloring books, and laugh a lot at this table. Faith has her new doll (she named her "Laurie") sitting in her new doll booster seat. She was thrilled to give the doll her own bowl and spoon!
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Fun, fun, and more fun! Chores? Sleep? No way!

Fun with Wixom cousins! Nate and Susannah brought their boys, Jonas and Isaac over for Chili & cornbread on Friday night. The boys had SO much fun playing together, we had to peel them off of each other! It was all about Star Wars, cars and mostly just TACKLING each other. We almost lost the lamp, and DID lose the star plate, but that's what we get for having WWF in the Living Room! We love these kiddos!
Faith and Isaac are exactly one month apart, and are SO darling together! Isaac is just a big goof, so this picture defines him perfectly! Faith was already (at such a young age) acting like she didn't want to stand too close to him because he was a BOY! Keep thinking that, Faith. Don't get tooooooo close.
On Friday afternoon, we went with the Gary, Jewel and Olivia downtown. We walked through the Botanical Gardens and then over to see the tree in front of the Capitol Building. This is a different tree than the "Holiday" Tree in front of the White House. We all agreed that we liked this one better! The decorations were all homemade by children in Virginia and the tree was able to keep it's shape, even with all the lights. After the tree, we walked over to Union Station to see a Norwegian Train display.

This was cute...while we waited for the Daddies to bring the cars, we walked into a bookstore to keep ourselves busy. My darling 5-year old Faith said "Mom, can we read all the books in the whole store?" Boy, that sounded so good to me!
Dad and Andrew in front of the White House (see it between their heads?) Andrew arranged for the three of us to have a tour of the White House. This year, the focus was on National Parks, so the colors were more golds and naturals, rather than reds like last year. They had fake snow nestled into the trees, with golden birds and butterflies as decorations.

My favorite part was that we visited with a Secret Service Officer at the end of the tour, who gave us some insight to the travel, schedule and lifestyle of the President. He really has a HARD job!
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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Johnny wearing Grandpa's glasses. Speaking of glasses...this is the first Christmas in 24 years that I have not reached for my glasses before jumping out of bed. I am so so grateful (I'm tearing up just writing about it) for my LASIK surgery and the freedom it has given me to function easier. As John was lying in our bed the other morning (we think he has croup), Andrew and I could exchange glances on my way downstairs to sleep on the couch. I am so grateful for that.
Grant received a Lego Star Wars game from Santa, and immediately went to work! If you look closely, you can see a glove on the hand under Grant's chin. He gets SO excited that he can't keep his pinky finger out of his mouth - this is our gentle reminder for him. Clark is such a good sport to just watch and watch and watch him play his games.
Mimi and Papa gave the children a FISH TANK! Andrew and the kids set it up yesterday and Faith said out loud "This is so exciting!" (that means a lot, guys!) Thank you so much for this wonderful gift that will keep on giving! We'll go next week and choose some fish, which might make it even more exciting! (wink) Great gift, Mimi & Papa!
This is the Christmas aftermath. Messy front room, despite our best efforts to clean up as we opened. You can't see in this picture, but our tree is so funny this year. The decorations are beautiful, the shape is perfect, but the day after we set it all up, the top half of the lights went out! After replacing at least two fuses, having success for only a fleeting moment and then back to broken, we didn't know what else to do! Maybe next year we can get those cool new LED lights! Watch out, George Jetson.

I just want everyone to know how much we love and appreciate you. I am so grateful that, despite all the miles, we can feel close to our loved ones by e-mail, phone calls, pictures and blogs. Thank you for all the gifts - most of all for just thinking of us.

I am SO grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who came to this earth, lived among sinners, and died so that I can return and live with Him and Heavenly Father again. I am grateful to his blessed mother, Mary, who took on such a large responsibility of raising the Son of God. Words cannot express my gratitude for my chance to be a mother as well.

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Waiting at the top of the stairs before our descent to CHRISTMAS FUN! From the look on his face, I think Grandpa is just as excited as the kids were!
Clark and JOhn got this "Spring Horse" from Santa. They have greatly improved the design from our days as kids. The boys loved it!
Andrew's showing Grant the technique for a perfect ball break (is that even what it's called?)
Faith and "Big Daddy" Grandpa Croshaw. These days, Faith can't take a bad picture. I guess it's time to try again with the Family Photo -if you haven't seen our last family photo, check it out next time you're here! It's was adorable, except for Faith who put her chin into her chest and scowled through EVERY shot. We'll laugh about it someday!
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This is our Christmas Eve table. We had Dad and Jami with us for dinner, and then our friend, Kristene Preece arrived, and she ate with us too. Faith was so cute and said "What if someone else comes? We don't have any more seats!" So, right after that, while we were praying, Talbot and Penny Dredge knocked on the door, bringing us a Christmas gift. The Dredge's lent us their beach home in Virginia this summer and the kids STILL talk about it. Talbot and Andrew are home teaching companions, and they brought us a book about Chincotique, which is on Assateague Island - horses just walk freely along the beach, and we had seen them during our visit!
Clark in his "Merry Christmas" jammies! He was loving the attention when he shook his bottom and danced. These were part of the jammies that were purchased at Down East 2 Christmases ago. $4 a pair - aren't they fun?
This is Jami and Kristene with the kiddos. We love visitors, and the kids really did quite well this time. We've been working on their "performance" levels when visitors come over - great job, kiddos!
Here's Andrew with the boys. I bought Andrew a Bluetooth headset to use on his way to/from work. So, if you've ever needed to call him, the time is NOW!
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MERRY CHRISTMAS! This is our family after all the morning fun! We had a GREAT morning - the kids were all happy, everyone was grateful for their gifts and Andrew made me a beautiful movie of me with the children, which is PRICELESS!
This is our mantel - ready for Santa's arrival
Our favorite thing in the month of December is to get Christmas Cards from all of our friends and family! This year, we sent 200 cards and probably received 100 back. This is our ONE time of year that we touch base with many of our friends from other states and countries that we just don't get to see. We love you all, our Christmas Card friends, and are so grateful for your example and friendship. You influence our lives for good despite the miles between us!
On Sunday evening, Andrew took Grant, Faith and Clark out to visit President and Sister Wixom (John was sick, so I stayed home). The boys had a great time playing MOnopoly and showed Grant "the ropes". Thank you, patient uncles!
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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fun in the leaves!

A week and a half before Christmas, and we are happy to say that rather than shopping...we are playing as a family! This morning we raked the leaves and had fun jumping into them! Faith had a hard fall when she missed the leaves on her last jump, but this one was a success!
Clark never told us when he was going to actually jump, so we just had to be ready! Who knew that a swing, a tarp and some leaves would make for an hour of fun?
Daddy's pole vaulting position - I think he was just trying to accommodate for his height so he wouldn't drag on the ground!
Mommy's turn - the kids were just as excited to watch Mom & Dad jump in as they were to do it themselves - I have to admit, it was a lot of fun! And fun to just be together as a family!
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Fun in the Leaves

This morning we raked up all the leaves in the backyard and JUMPED IN THEM! Faith had a little mishap at the very end, where she overjumped the leaves and her bottom met the ground HARD. But, this jump was a good one!
Clark never let us know when he was going to jump, so it was always a surprise! Isn't it funny how leaves, a tarp and a swing can be so much fun???
Daddy's turn - this is his pole vault position right before his landing. He's a little tall for that swing, don't you think?
Mommy's turn - the kids were just as excited to see Mom & Dad jump in as they were to do it themselves. I have to admit - it was a lot of fun! A week and a half until Christmas, and I am proud to say that we are NOT shopping...we're playing together as a family!
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Friday, December 14, 2007

WELCOME Christmas Card Friends!

On our Christmas Card this year, we wrote our blog address, so that we could try to keep in touch better with our otherwise Christmas Card friends.

Unfortunately, many of you have probably already come to the site, and left disappointed because I hadn't posted in weeks! For that, I apologize.

Now, if you'll just check ONE more time, you'll see that I'm back on track with the blog! How do I balance everything in my life? I am really struggling with that! After making 22 loaves of bread this week as Christmas gifts, my house is really suffering, not to mention time to just enjoy the Christmas season! It's going to be gone before we know it!

Please give me any tips on simplifying life in general. I feel like I always have 10 errands that need to be run, a load of dishes in the sink, one in the dishwasher, shoes EVERYWHERE (anyone?) coats, backpacks, little tiny legos, balls, potatoes on the step and so much more!

We'll figure it out, but I am ALWAYS open to suggestions. AFter being in Thailand where my dear sister has a Super housekeeper come twice a week who cleans, irons, washes, scrubs everything, I am wishing I had the same! Sometimes I feel like I AM the housekeeper, with an occasional moment to be a mom (anyone?)

I have SO many dear Christmas Card friends who do it wonderfully, and I am just grateful that I know them and can learn from them. Thank you Marilyn, Kristen, Jennica, Christine (expecting her 7th child), Brooke and so many more!

Someone is doing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" for us and we are enjoying it SO much! The kids are starting to anticipate it every night, because the treats are delicious! So, if you're reading this...THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts! A secret has never been so much fun! 1st day...ONE gingerbread man 2nd day...2 Mint Chocolate cookies; 3rd day...3 Whoopie Pies
These are the boys in our preschool. John, Jack, Clark, Owen and David. I taught this week about N for the North Pole. We had snowball fights, learned about penguins and Polar Bears and even learned a little song! These boys range from 2 1/2 (John) to 5 (Jack) and they are just so cute! I can't wait until next week when we learn about B for Bells! Miss Audrey is going to bring her glockenspiel to play for them!
These are my cute Bethlehem children in the Mini-van! I just thought it was so cute!
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Night in Bethlehem

This is our family in Bethlehem. We made all the costumes out of felt, tied things up with some cord from Joann's and we ready!
If you weren't keeping the law, they put you in jail. See how sad Clark is in jail???
These are my 3 Shepherds. Clark and John were definitely the comic relief of the Nativity. Clark kept waving to me, and Johnny wouldn't go OFF the stage on cue, and wouldn't come back ON the stage when asked. It was a full-blown comedy act, and they weren't even trying to be funny!
Faith was one of the angels - and that she definitely is! We started out by cutting holes in a pillowcase - it fit perfectly. Then we added a shirt on top, a tie and some stars in her hair! We had a great night!
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This is Mom and I in the Umbrella Factory. After seeing the amount of time (and blisters) that goes into each umbrella, I wanted to buy them all!
Mom and Dad drinking some Coconut Milk. You'd think it would be delicious - it's not. This was at the Orchid Farm where we stopped for dinner. The restaurant was hidden way in the back, but our Thai driver, Sam, knew just where to take us - we were SO pleased with the food, and the environment was perfect!
This was our second Elephant ride, down the side of a mountain, over the river and back up. The picture is blurry because it is VERY difficult to take a picture of a moving target when you're moving yourself! These Elephant Trainers live right on-site and work with the Elephants every day! Our Elephant had big long tusks and was 34 years old!
I"m not sure if this movie will work, but it's of the elephants playing soccer. They also painted pictures, played harmonicas, carried logs, and much more. It was so entertaining!
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