Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas '08

We have always had wonderful Christmas's at my house. I have been so lucky since I've been married to have been able to spend Christmas with my family every year (we always do Thanksgiving with the Nielsens). I love the traditions, there is something in my personality that really likes things to happen the way I expect them to happen. Christmas always does.

We had a great Christmas Eve with the extended Earls. Though I must say, there were not enough of us there. So if all of you who didn't get their butts up to Moses Lake for Christmas this year can step it up next year and get it right I would really appreciate it!

Jon brought one of his family traditions with him this year, the Christmas chimes. His family takes a casual approach to the chimes. They all hand out the different chimes and politely play along with the music until they figure out which tune they are playing. Nothing about that is Earl style. first off, each of us tried our hardest to get the chime that got the most play time. Then we practiced the tune several times in order to sound good enough for the Earl talent show. Corrections were shouted out frequently during our practice session, 'Bryan you aren't holding your spoon right.' 'Dad, that's not your note!' 'Courtney you are high C, not low C.' 'Bryan, you are still not holding your spoon right! Are you going to do it correctly or not?' I caught Jon shaking his head in resignation a few times.

The truly funny part was, the chimes were not their first choice for Earl talent. My parents were dead set on the family learning this lovely routine.

I will admit, my dad doing a little Beyonce booty shake would have been pretty dang funny, but we just couldn't get our moves together in time. So we moved on to the chimes.

That night, we opened our Christmas pajamas and the photo shoot ensued. I am just remembering as I type this that we used to runway style walk down the stairs in our new pjs, do our model turn, hair flip, and continue back down our runway... I will tell you you really haven't laughed hard enough if you haven't seen Kristy's 6 year old model walk. Oh the good ol' days!

We debated back and forth whether to wake Scarlet up for Santa but we finally decided to go for it. So when my dad came downstairs in the wee early hours of the morning (ok, about 6:30 a.m.) I grabbed a half awake, half frightened Scarlet out of her bed, pacifier still in mouth, and we crouched under a well placed table. She laid in my arms pretty peacefully until Santa walked in the door. I could feel every muscle in her body tense and she was instantly wide awake. I could see her eyes following those boots as they walked back and forth across the room. At one point he came up to the side of the table and we could see him from head to toe. She instantly grabbed tight to my hand and I could feel her slightly shaking. I held her tight and she continued to watch his every movement until he walked out the door.

Then we all came rushing out of our hiding spots to see what he had left behind. Scarlet got a Baby Alive doll, which she loved. Rhode (who we got after Santa has exited) got a winnie the pooh tummy time mat. So far, he still isn't a huge fan of the tummy time but he had a great time staring intently at the box for awhile.

My mom never puts our names on the presents. She doesn't want us trying to figure out what we got or how many are ours so the names are always in code. This year we were all pop stars. I was Shakira this year and Jon was Hannah Montana. We got some great presents this year. Jon and I tried to keep things pretty low key this year. He got a pretty expensive speeding ticket the week before Christmas so my present to him this year is to do his online traffic school for him. He got me a much needed new set of scriptures.
Scarlet trying on Aunt Kylie's new Christmas hat.

Scarlet did very well. Jon and I got her several sets of color wonder markers and notebooks in hopes of saving our walls from further graffiti and some new books. Aunt Kylie got Scarlet the new Tinkerbell movie. And my parents got her several adorable outfits, snow clothes, an electronic purse, a teddy bear, a toy vacuum cleaner, and SEVERAL others that made a lot of noise. She was in toddler heaven! Rhode also got some fun toys from grandma and grandpa, we played the 'he's not old enough to care' card and got him nothing!

One of our favorite gifts of the year was Jon's gift to Bryan, his secret santa sibling. We had the hardest time decided what to get, so Jon decided to get him... a machete. Yeah, a real machete. It was pretty awesome. Bryan seemed excited about it. I think Jon and Bryan found a few things outside that needed machete-ing before we left. Boys...

We spent the rest of Christmas day in our pajamas, playing all our new games and eating all the junk we could. Scarlet kept going up to different aunts and uncles saying, 'I'm hungry!" which actually sounds like "I'n hun-gee". They would then say, ok what do you want? To which she would reply, "candy!" or "tan-dee"! She scored a lot of chocolate that way. Every time I would find her with another mouthful of chocolate, I would turn to the offending aunt or uncle and they would look at me with their innocent eyes and say, "She said she was hungry!" So easily fooled by a cute face....

I loved seeing my children get to spend so much time with my family. Scarlet was constantly beckoning one of her aunts to "come!" and follow her to wherever she wanted to play next.
She even learned a few names! Kendall (Ten-dow) is her favorite name to say. She still will turn to me occasionally and say, "mom, where ten-dow?".
Rhode got spoiled rotten as someone was there to hold him every second of the day.
I was also able to help out my mom during the week with some dance choreography. We spent a lot of time editing music, watching the routines, fixing the parts that weren't working. Kristy snapped this picture of us watching yet another routine. She calls it the three generations of dance.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Anatomy of a photo shoot

As I looked back at what I thought was a horrible attempt to take pictures of our children, I found myself highly entertained. And so in future years when Scarlet might ask why there are so few good pictures of her and her brother... Scarlet, this is for you.

*disclaimer - Jon really wanted to mess with all these photos in photoshop before I posted them but I wouldn't let him. He really wanted everyone to know that...

I have had Scarlet's 2008 Christmas dress in my posession since January. I was casually looking at kids clothes when I saw it and fell instantly in love with it. Not only did it have beautiful velvet and beading but it was a dark brown. I knew it would look so beautiful on my brown eyed girl! And, icing on the cake, it was cheap! So it has sat in the back of her closet for almost a year and I was so excited to pull it out.

Rhode also had a pretty adorable Christmas outfit and all I really wanted was a few nice snapshots of the two kids together then a chance to show them off at church.

We decided Rhode would start our show. Here is us setting up...

He wasn't so sure about the whole thing at first...

but he warmed up quickly like the good little guy that he is.

You would think I would learn from my mistakes but obviously not. I gave Scarlet the box of raisins right before I wanted her picture taken. Stupid mom.

So I attempted to hold the raisins for her just while we snapped a quick picture.

"I don't know what's going on dad..."

She didn't take too well to the raisin-less idea

"Just let me know when you need me to smile, I'll be here"

Raisins returned and tears ceased, we now had to get the two kids happy and together. Then came the brilliant idea... 'hey Scarlet, give baby brother a raisin!'

That idea earned us this photo. Too much light but two pretty happy kids!

Now to get a shot of the outfits. Scarlet was done participating (oh wait, when was she ever participating) so Jon snapped these as she wandered around the room.

While our backs were turned, Rhode decided to hit a more alluring pose on the pillows. So we turned our attentions to him!

Turns out, the best way to get Scarlet to want to get her picture taken is to ignore her.
"Look at me again!"

Some of my favorites of the day...
Scarlet must have really not been happy with me after the shoot because she decided to pay me back during church. Jon had to take her out of Sacrament because she was crying so hard about who knows what. She continued to cry until... she threw up. All over Jon, all over the dress. So they got to go home second hour for a costume change and Scarlet spent the rest of nursery Christmas dress-less. Aren't toddlers great?!

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Official... Hell Froze Over

Las Vegas gets its occasional snow flurries during this time of year but for the first time in 30 years, we got DUMPED on. The snow started falling early in the morning and was still coming down hard late that evening. It was insane.

I was so glad that I had nowhere to be but warm and cozy in my house. Las Vegas doesn't react too well to precipitation. Whenever it rains, cars just start hitting each other and streets immediately become rivers. Snow? Yeah, the city went into widespread panic. The freeway was shut down, almost all flights were cancelled, and I could hear sirens speeding by every few minutes. It was crazy.

So anyone remember the scene from The Office when Michael comes in screaming for ideas because there is wet concrete outside and he has to put some kind of mark in it? Well, imagine that scene but instead of Michael, picture Jon. And instead of concrete, freshly fallen, sticky snow.

And oddly enough, both of their solutions involved faces...

The head was about eight feet tall when he finally finished.

Cars kept slowing down as they drove by and I'm pretty sure every one of our neighbors stopped by to take a picture. Sadly some teenagers decided to knock it down on their way home from school the next day.

Jon got it right though when he came in and said, 'It really does actually feel like Christmas.'

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A quarter of my life is OVER!

One year older and wiser too... that is what they say right?! Sure wish it was true. I hate it when Primary songs lead you astray.

I celebrated my 25th birthday this past weekend. I got to go to one of my favorite places to eat, BJ's and was rewarded for my yearly efforts with my free birthday pizookie. It is most definitely the best dessert in the history of restaurant desserts. And when someone hands it to you free of charge with an extra scoop of ice cream and a burning candle... mmhm, happy birthday to me.

It is always nice on these occasions to take a look back and see what you have accomplished in the past year. As I sit in our half remodeled home while Jon makes me some birthday cupcakes, Scarlet empties yet another thing of dental floss and Rhode laughs at me from his bouncer chair I can't help but think I am one pretty lucky girl. This may not be the glamorous, successful life I tended to dream about back in the day but this life is pretty darn awesome.

Here's to a great family, good friends, and another year to try to get a little wiser.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Major Catch Up

Our computer bit the big one so I have been internet-less for way too long. So here are the many posts I have been meaning to get up for a few weeks now! Enjoy the way too many updates on the Nielsen activities!

Santa Love

Our ward primary has an annual Santa breakfast put on by the primary. And, since that is now my job, Santa breakfast was my job too. It was quite the event, we were expecting about 150 people. I don't know how many actually came, I'm not very good with estimating, but there was quite the crowd. We fed all the families, then all the kids got to meet Santa.

Rhode was a Santa lap sitting expert

Scarlet on the other hand....

As you can see, I even tried to bribe her with candy. Didn't work. In her defense, I couldn't get any of the kids her age to get within 5 feet of jolly St. Nick. She loved the candy cane though!

Because I'm bad, I'm bad you know it.

I had a very sad 'bad mom' moment the other day. While I was pulling dinner out of the oven, I wasn't paying attention to Scarlet. Right as I took my dish out, she came over and slapped her hand on the open oven door. My poor little girl got a second degree burn on her right hand. It was so sad. She cried about it for a very long time. And all evening, even after we would have distracted her for awhile, she would suddenly look down at her hand shocked that it was still hurting! But we got her some cream and put a glove over it to protect the wound.

Her hand is doing much better, it doesn't bother her at all any more. And it was kind of a kick seeing her walk around with one glove on all week. There were many Michael Jackson references made.

Official Weigh-in

We finally got to the pediatrician for Rhode's official stat check. My little man clocked in at a sizable 15 lbs. 2 oz. ranking him in the 90th percentile. Surprisingly, his height only got him in the 70th percentile. Comparatively, in our family, that makes him not just a chunker but a short chunker!

He is still just the happiest, sweetest little guy. He is full of smiles and squeals of delight, especially for his dad and Scarlet. The one place he doesn't like to be in the car, so I put his car seat next to Scarlet's the other day and he was perfectly happy the entire trip as she chatted away to him. What a lucky mom I am!

What a blessed baby

We got to bless Rhode while we were in Gridley. With the holiday season, it was a great chance to have a lot of family there since we are a little lacking in nearby family in Vegas. (Except for you Sam!)
I have never been one to have strong opinions about blessing clothes for my children. I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted Rhode to wear and, to be honest, I didn't have enough of an opinion on the subject to put that much time into it. Then, my mom told me she still had the suit Brad and Bryan wore, a tux her friend had made for her. She sent it up and I immediately fell it love with it.
It is seriously retro adorable. Coat tails, a cummerbund, a bow tie... so cute. I tried sooooooo hard to get good pictures that day but it was really sunny, children were NOT cooperating (thank you Scarlet), and the outfit barely fit Rhode so I didn't get a good picture of the tux but hopefully you can get some idea of how cute it was.

My other goal of the day was to get a decent picture of my two kids together. But, as it tends to go, when one was cooperating, the other was not.

Scarlet did get an adorable picture with her favorite member of the Marshall family... Bruno

Sadly the dog got a lot more of Scarlet's love and attention than any other family member.

Are those some good lookin kids or what?

The blessing was so beautiful. It was really wonderful to have Rhode's grandfather (and namesake) in the circle along with two of his uncles.