I must admit, this year has not been near the roller coaster ride I expected it would be when it started.
At the beginning of the year Jarom quit working for HP and we became 100% self-employed. (His web business had only been our side business up to that point.) I was terrified at the thought of our income dropping in half, but I knew this is what Jarom wanted. He felt really good about doing it, and I always trust his instincts (he has good ones). He has done so great with the company. Our income did drop, but not in half (not even the very first month) and Jarom is a much happier person. There were a couple of rough months, but we've made it this far and can only go up from here.
It is different not having a salary check automatically deposited into my account every two weeks. And my shopping thought process has had to change. But I can not let this year end without expressing my gratitude for Jarom, his hard work and determination, and his company. I feel very blessed, especially in this time when so many dear friends are struggling to find work, and I would be ungrateful if I didn't acknowledge my own blessings.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
I must admit, this year has not been near the roller coaster ride I expected it would be when it started.
Posted by Elena at 10:48 AM
Monday, December 28, 2009
Christmas morning the kids were up bright and early. Santa wraps the doorway into the basement to ensure no peeking occurs before parents are awake.
Taking in the goods after having busted through the wrapping.
More Barbies and a house! YES!! (She was excited about these, but honestly I think the thing she loved most this year was her new pink sheet set for her bed. I got a great big hug and kiss for those!)
Star Wars, Star Wars, and more Star Wars for this kid. (And some legos.)
Roller blades and Speakers for her MP3 player.
I think I've awakened to sounds of rollerblades in the kitchen all week long. She is in love.
Giant dolly and horse for Halle, Lily Anna and Cooper Cream. (She loves them, but I think the zhu zhu pet is the favorite.)
I think the kids were almost more excited about their gift for Johnny than anything else. He was hilarious waiting for them to open it. He just knew it was for him.
And he played with his giant tennis ball all day long. SO funny!
A few rounds of Beatles Rockband and then it was time to head to Grammy's.
Silly Carter....still in his Christmas Eve jammies....which I just peeled off him tonight to put in the washer. (Yah....it's the 29th....don't judge me.)
Little Santa Baby with her bag full of goods.
A quick family shot while we were all together...and not wearing towels on our heads.
The highlight of the night were sleds from Grammy and Grampy.
Who needs snow when you can just go down the staircase instead? And only one injury to report, Halle broke or sprained her poor little pinky toe. But oh what fun they had.
We had a lovely Christmas and feel very blessed and thankful for all we have. Hope your holiday was just as enjoyable.
Posted by Elena at 11:48 PM
Sunday, December 27, 2009
The night started with dinner,the family Nativity, and my sister and I sneaking a BYU shirt on little Cameron. My brother, Cameron's dad, is a Utah fan and is always trying to play pranks on us BYU fans. We thought we were so funny taking this picture and then posting it all over facebook land. LOL! Doesn't the blue suit him well?
Halle lost one of her earrings, one of her Disneyland souvenir earrings, no less -her solution to the problem is to "just go back to Disneyland". She was SO concerned about her ear holes closing up (in the two hours we were there- no amount of explaining would convince her that she'd be fine) that Aunt Mimi let her borrow her earrings. They came clear down to Halle's shoulders and she felt BEAUTIFUL. It was hilarious!
I don't know why, but this picture just cracks me up every time I look at it. Quin got to play the role of Caesar this year and Cameron was baby Jesus, all swaddled up.
My dad as the Inn Keeper.
Got to end with the traditional family shot.
After the nativity we headed home to open our Christmas Eve gifts. The kids draw names and I let them open their gifts to each other. Alyssa had Carter this year and was so thoughtful. She had a silent auction at school and rather than get herself something, she used her hard earned behaviour/homework bucks to get Carter a Bakugan ball that he had been wanting. She is such a sweet girl. Halle gave Kate a little dolly with beautiful brown eyes like Kate's and the little kids (aka mom) gave the big girls Christmas earrings.
We also open the new ornaments for the year - Kate got a little reindeer playing dress up, Carter got a reindeer playing video games, Alyssa got a mouse playing the piano, and Halle got a mouse sewing and crafting away. All perfect for each of them this year.
And of course it wouldn't be Christmas Eve without the new jammies. Carter insisted that his were BYU football pajamas and Kate was SO excited about her "dots". Alyssa and Halle were both perfectly pleased that they each got their favorite colors. Jarom and I also got new pajamas. Poor Jarom...I got him some that were a little big.....all right a LOT too big. LOL!! Poor guy, he looked like good ol' Saint Nick himself. But he was a good sport and wore them anyway.
After gifts and a Christmas story, we set out the cookies and then the kids all snuggled together in the office/guest bed- the traditional Christmas Eve sleepover.
Posted by Elena at 11:03 PM
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Cheeseballs, Shirley Temples, Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites, Grilled Shrimp,Pizza Fondue, Bacon Swiss Dip, Little Smokies, Avocado Eggrolls, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Fruit Kabobs, and Mint Brownies,Visits to each families' home and...
the Traditional Family Picture by the tree taken by Grandpa.
These are the things that made up the progressive dinner this year. Good times.
Posted by Elena at 1:08 PM
Friday, December 18, 2009
I can't let the month slip away (which it will surely do come next week with the whirlwind the holidays bring) without posting a couple pictures of Halle ready for her dance recital. We decided to switch from cheer to hip hop this year. She was s little sad in the beginning, but has since really taken a liking to hip hop. I think this girl would honestly love any type of organized class that involves movement.
She wasn't real excited about the idea of camo pants, but as soon as she saw how cute she looked in the outfit she changed her tune. This girl is so lucky, she's one of those people that can whip a ponytail in her hair, throw on a sweat shirt, and look like a million bucks. (I must also say, that I was VERY impressed with the enitre dance studio's outfits. No bare bellies or seductive outfits on 6 year olds. Very appropriate and modest clothing as far as dance clothes go. Always such a relief!)
She did great at the recital. Her class is a little behind due to some scheduling issues, so they didn't know the entire dance. I'm excited for the next performance in a couple of months to see how much they've improved.
Posted by Elena at 8:40 AM
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I took my kids (and the dog) to my mom's this afternoon so I could finish Christmas shopping and start wrapping a few things. I mean have you ever Christmas shopped with your kids in tow? Nightmare...and not to mention, there is always the possibility of being accused for shoplifting. All the tucking under the coat and hiding in the purse, waiting until the very last second to discreetly place the item on the conveyor belt, hoping the kids stay entertained with that stupid travel sized bobble head pen long enough for the "secret item" to be safely stowed away in the shopping bag. Whew....I just exhausted myself thinking about it.
Anyway...I shopped for a while and the hustle and bustle was insane. (Although, I quite enjoyed myself perusing the isles without my usual shadows tagging along.) Then I headed home to sort things and start the wrapping process. As I was driving home, I kept thinking to myself how nice it was to be alone. And then I started feeling guilty and selfish for not wanting to be with my kids. Here I was buying them things and I didn't even want them to be around me.
When I walked into my house it was silent. I mean drop dead silent. Not even the dog there to greet me. (And if you know Johnny, you know he's half the chaos and noise of this house by himself.) No tv blaring, no ivory keys pounding "Silver Bells" or "Deck the Halls" (the 2 current favorites), no basketball bounce-bounce-bouncing, and best of all, no screaming and crying. It. was. glorious.
I sat down and wrapped in silence. I didn't even turn on Christmas tunes. I just needed time to listen to my heart beat and my lungs breathe. Time to contemplate and ponder all the blessings I have been given. Time to recover from the craziness of normal life. Time to reflect on my Savior. And time to just be Elena....not Mom. It was all of 3 hours, but it's all I needed.
And now, I'm ready again to listen to the noise, the crying, the laughing, the piano, the pounding basketball, and even the barking dog. Because without all of that, I wouldn't have my greatest blessing of all...my sweet little family.
Posted by Elena at 10:04 PM
Posted by Elena at 12:18 PM
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Kate's hair is starting to grow back from the unfortunate hair cut incident we had a couple months ago. It cracks me up every morning!
And just a couple more of funny Kate:
She has discovered the wooden shoes from Holland and loves to clomp around in them. They make such a "fun" racket on the wood floors. :)
Posted by Elena at 2:22 PM
Monday, December 14, 2009
My sister-in-law introduced me to this idea for Christmas gifts several years ago. I finally implemented it in our home 2 years ago and it has been the best thing ever. It makes Christmas so much easier for me. Each child gets
Something they WANT,
Something they NEED,
Something to WEAR,
and Something to READ.
(I also add a gift from Santa and an ornament. Grandma gives the new pj's for Christmas Eve and Grammy usually does fleece shirts/pants and a toy of some sort.)
Seriously, this is the greatest plan ever, so if you're feeling overwhelmed a little, try this to simplify your gift list.
Anyway, I was talking with Katie (my SIL) about what our kids were asking for and getting. She told me that all her little 4 year old (Gabby) was asking for was, for her WANT: wrapping paper and tape, and for her NEED: a new bucket so that the next time she has to throw up, she'll be ready. LOL!!! Is that not the most hilarious thing you have ever heard?!
See? Kids don't need great big, fancy, expensive gifts to be happy. A little tape and a barf bucket just might do the trick. (Now you know what to get the 4 year old on your list.)
Posted by Elena at 10:00 AM
Friday, December 11, 2009
Okay, okay....it's time for this blog to feel like Christmas. (And I'm kind of hating my header, but hey, it's better than looking at those fall leaves.)
We have been doing many Christmas-y things around this place.
First up, I hauled the tree up from the basement (so proud of myself for doing it without asking Jarom for help) plugged it in and.......nothing. Not even one strand of lights worked. I was so bummed. I was ready to rip all the lights off and start from scratch (or worse, have an unlit tree this year), but my Dad came over with his trusty electric gun thingy (he said he bought it at Walgreens) and suggested we try replacing a few bulbs first. Well, a few turned into over 150 lightbulbs and 6 hours of work. Our fingers were chewed to bits by wire pricks, but we got the tree lit. Although it was hours and hours of work and probably would have been easier to scrap the whole dang thing and just start over, I am glad we did it. These lights are fastened on with plastic clips and it would have been just as huge of a nightmare had we restrung it. (Thanks for your help Dad.)
Here's the moral of the story: If you have a burnt out bulb, replace it that same year. Do NOT go 4 years without replacing any bulbs. Because apparently if too many bulbs blow out, it sends too much electricity to the remaining bulbs causing them to short out. We replaced all visibly black bulbs to start with, then shot the wire with the electric gun and got the strands working. Then we were able to replace any other burned out bulbs on the string that weren't black. And if you try this and it still isn't working, replace the bulb closest to the plug and try again. That bulb seems to be the culprit of many problems.
Let there be light!
And just for kicks, check out how the lights turned into candy canes when I was trying to be "artistic" and get a shot of the lights.
After the lights were lit, it was time to decorate the tree. The problem? The ornaments were in boxes at the top of the garage and Jarom was working 80 hour weeks with no time to help me get the boxes down. So, I took it upon myself to get them. I got the step stool out, stood on the top rung, slid the rubbermaid boxes -2 high- on top of my head, came back down the stool and into the house perching the boxes on my head the entire time. I could have rivaled some of those women in Africa who carry everything on their heads I tell ya. (And NO, I won't ever try that stunt again. Those boxes are moving to the basement this year.) But...the tree is decorated -and don't forget, lit- and as always the best part is adding my new ornaments I've collected throughout the year. This year includes Mickey from Disneyland,
and my new Mt. Rushmore ornament.
We've also decorated our gingerbread houses. I really love doing this. Kate was kind and let me share with her this year, but I don't know if that will be the case next year. I may have to splurge and buy 5 houses next time. I just think it's so cute how each child's personality shows through in their little candy houses. This picture of Alyssa cracks me up. I had told her to move the popcorn making goods (Jarom is on a quest to create theater tasting popcorn at home) and she thought she was being so sneaky. Left to right Alyssa's house, Kate's & mine, Carter's, and Halle's.
So Christmas is going full speed at this house. Before we know it, it'll be time to put it all away, but for now, we're doing our best to enjoy the season.
Posted by Elena at 3:25 PM
Thursday, December 10, 2009
We've been having Star Wars marathons at our house. (Trying to get a certain little boy prepared for a certain Christmas something.) We've been teaching him the difference between a Trooper and a Droid. And of course the names of all the other essentials. (I had forgotten how much I loved Ewoks.) After watching 4 straight hours of space wars (which btw, Halle thinks are much too violent as there is a death in "EVERY scene" - hence the word "war" but never mind) I hopped in the shower. I went to lather up and squeezed the body soap. It shot out with a "zhhhhooooop" noise and all I could think was, "Man, that was a pretty cool lazer gun sound." Yep, too much Star Wars for me I think.
I've also been reading "Ender's Game". All about space wars and alien battles. My mother in law lent it to me, knowing of my love for science fiction. She told me I was probably "just nerdy enough" that I'd enjoy it. LOL!! So funny, and sadly true. However, I can't say I loved the book. I need more character development than this book offered. But I liked it enough that I read the whole thing. (Currently reading "The Maze Runner" which I am loving.)
And lastly, I've laid to rest my beloved Krazer phone.
So Sad for me. This has been the best little phone. I swore I would never get one of those fancy schmancy phones with all the bells and whistles.
But I succumbed to this little pretty.(Well Jarom pushed me out of the nest with a BOGO offer on his new phone.)The new Droid Eris. I'm gonna have to admit, it's pretty easy to use. I haven't answered any calls on it yet, (anyone want to call me?) nor, have I received any texts (anyone want to send me a note?) BUT, I have posted an update to Facebook with it! I'm still getting used to typing with my thumbs. (I'm the world's slowest texter I think.) I'm a pointer by nature, not a thumber, and it's taking a little time to adjust. It was awesome to wake up this morning though, push the on button and see the weather (-12) just like magic. Now I just need to name her. (And yes, it's a she b/c she has a pretty pink skin.) Any suggestions?
Tomorrow my blog will FINALLY look like Christmas. I swear, even if it's the last thing I do, my blog will have a new look!
Posted by Elena at 8:45 AM
Monday, December 07, 2009
I love my house. I've loved it from the first minute I walked through it with my realtor 4 1/2 years ago. It is beautiful on its own, but it truly has so much potential to be absolutely gorgeous. The problem??? Me. I'm completely unskilled, uncreative, and down right frightened to do anything along the "decorator" lines.
I've been wanting to paint for several years now. My friend Kayce (who is an amazingly talented decorator, remodeler, do-it-your-selfer) has had to look at a million paint swatches from me. ("What do you think of this one? How about this one? How hard is red to do?") My sister-in-law, Becky, just got brave and put some color on her walls, and once I saw it, I just knew I had to paint. Now or never! I didn't let myself dwell on it. I picked a color, filled the paint buckets and got to it.
My girls cracked me up. They have learned well from me, they grabbed the camera without any prompting, and started clicking pictures. They even got a before shot.
Kayce surprised me by showing up ready to paint. After all the phone calls she received from me about every question you can imagine, she must have thought I needed some supervision! Seriously though, I was SO grateful for her help. She stayed for 4 hours and we were able to get the entire first coat on.
Oh-ho-ho! Look at that column standing out!! And the trim around the window. And who knew I had crown molding on my ceilings?
The lighting is a little funky, but here's a somewhat finished shot. I still need to buy curtains for my naked windows (kids' Christmas gifts are the top priority right now though). And although it's not a "brave bold color", I love the color of the wall next to my piano. It makes everything feel so much richer and deeper.
Now, if only it weren't so much work, I'm really wanting to do some more rooms!
Posted by Elena at 10:02 AM
Sunday, December 06, 2009
My brother and his little family drove up from California so we could all meet the newest addition to the family. (They also blessed him at my parents' home.)
My new fuzzy headed nephew Cameron. I was so excited to rub my face in that head full of soft hair.
Halle could not wait to get her hands on the newest baby in the family. And he's such a GOOD baby. I didn't hear one single peep out of him. Not even when I got to bathe him!
I had to include this picture of my sister in law, Natalie because I think it turned out so pretty.
The little guy had to get his first haircut while he was in Idaho too. (Only 6 1/2 weeks old.)
Reminded me VERY much of cutting my own little fuzzy headed boy at the exact same age.
I should not be allowed to reminisce, makes me WAY too sappy!
Posted by Elena at 9:00 PM