Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cactus, Oranges, Pineapples and Coconut

Random thoughts on Arizona.

I love being in 60' weather in December, BUT, it doesn't seem right to have Christmas lights, wreaths, and Christmas trees up when it isn't cold and snowy! Guess it's all what you're used to.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our Phoenix cousins.

A twelve hour drive is a LONG, LONG drive with five children.

The party Mike had planned for when we hit the 100,000 mile mark on our suburban, was a little anti-climatic driving through a barren desert highway.
Loved and appreciated the three separate COMPLIMENTS we received from three separate people while dining at a restaurant yesterday on how beautiful/well behaved our five children were. (The lecture in the car previously must have worked!!)

Luke is aching to touch a cactus and Joshua insists the Joshua trees "aren't me" and Ellie says "palm trees remind me of pineapples."

Megan questioned "Why aren't there any coconuts on the palm trees?"

Love sitting out on a deck playing Skipbo on December 30th.

Oranges growing on trees are a constant source of finger pointing and "look over there."

I miss watching my local news each night. Yes, I am a litle obsessed, and feel mild anxiety going to bed each night without it.

Checking into our resort, the 'Concierge' asked me if I needed a glass of wine when she realized I had just been in the car for 12 hours with five kids. I was very tempted to say yes.

With the exception of playing with the Phoenix cousins, a twelve hour drive is a long way to "only want to swim and play games as a family."

We are telling our children that in Arizona they celebrate the new year at 9pm. Isn't that right?

Until next year...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Santa's Visit


Megan was thrilled (and a little alarmed) at the mannequin hair doll she received and has spent hours doing different hairstyles without her 'models' saying, "Ouch" or "I'm bored of this now."

Luke LOVED his 'hunting boots' that are now constantly on his feet. Everyone has to watch out for their toes or small toys to not get stepped on.

Ellie immediately began using the scissors to get into the baby doll inside the box and the baby doll combined with the new cradle Nana and Grandpa gave her declared, "This is my best Christmas ever."

Joshua loved his new bike, (after Grandpa and Daddy modified it so he could actually ride it), although his 'new BB Gun like Bubba's' has rarely left his side. (It is not a BB gun.)

Drew usually co-operates with whoever sits him down on his fire-engine at any given moment. Drew looked like a big boy in his first pair of cowboy boots courtesy of Nana and Grandpa.
Mike acted like a kid as he had Grandpa time him to see how fast he could lap the house on his new bike.
And Mom, though she is thoroughly enjoying the new computer we purchased earlier in the month, was momentarily speechless when Mike said, "The thought didn't even occur to me to get you anything else."

So, later on Christmas Day when Mike said to me, "You do a really great job of making Christmas a great day for all of us."

I bit my tongue and refrained from saying what I really wanted to say.

(You're damn right I do!)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Highlights

Christmas Eve Dinner, (wearing our silly hats that came out of the Christmas Crackers)
Cindy found the quarter in her dessert and won the $5.00 bill for the third time in the six years we've had this tradition. (Grandpa has won twice, Luke once.)
Everyone was mildly disappointed to have another repeat winner!
Finally ready to say goodnight.

Drew and Cousin Annie's First Christmas.
Christmas afternoon spent with extended family at Mimi's house.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fine Sweaters and Fine Mothers

I couldn't help but smile extra big on Sunday during the Sacrament Meeting choir program number in which the senior primary accompanied the choir. Luke was on the front row in his Christmas sweater, grudgingly singing along. And I just knew there was a smile shining down from the other side of the veil. I'm sure Granny is thrilled that the sweater she lovingly knitted is still being worn 18+ years later.

Though this Christmas sweater is less traditional than Christmas sweaters other boys may wear, it has turned into a sentimental, tangible reminder of not only my beloved Granny, but my son's enthusiasm and love for Christmas. I love that he wants to wear it.

Well, even if last Sunday he was a little hesitant to wear it because "Brennan and Chloe made fun of it last week in Primary." And so in my true, honest, mothering way I said,

"Tell them to shut up."

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Zooby Family

(random photos from December)

During the recent snowstorm, Mike was on and off the phone for hours on end dispatching and coordinating the snow removal crews. Sunday morning was just a normal Sunday morning for us. Even with an earlier than usual church time due to Stake Conference, things were rolling along quite smoothly. Mike continued to be on and off of the phone, and was doing quite well multi-tasking between phone calls, flipping hash-browns and frying sausage.

I was in and out of the kitchen when I could hear words such as "home", "five", "range from 11 to 9 months." What is he talking about I wonder? When for the previous 24 hours I've heard nothing but snow removal lingo.

The phone call ended. My questions began. Who was that? And what were you talking about?

"Oh it was Mark. He asked where I was, because he thought it sounded like the zoo in the background."

I chose not to be offended.

My house. Five children. Getting ready for church.
Really? I think. A zoo?
And I thought the morning was going quite well.

I've wondered since, how many children does this Mark guy have?

Oh. That's right.

NONE

A Blessing In Disguise

Each December, we meet with our Bishop for Tithing settlement. This year we didn't receive a letter with our scheduled appointment. With the chaos of Mike's surgery, then Mike's canceled surgery, we received a last minute phone call tonight. We had been 'forgotten' and could we come tonight?

The evening wasn't going so well at our house. Major temper tantrum over homework, unkind words to siblings, and a dinner that three younger kids deemed "disgusting" or "gross" or "I'm not eating that." Add to all this, Mom's request to put on church clothes to meet with the Bishop. Mom was snappy...Dad was getting irritated mom was snappy...

But to the church we went.

Daddy carefully chose his seat by the Bishop's candy jar to help the genetic sugar radar in our children from going off full-blast during our meeting. Most of the words were exchanged, the opening of the candy jar was soon to be the reward for the well behaved children.

While the Bishop states we are "one of his favorite families" (we sure have him fooled don't we?!) and because we "are the last tithing settlement of the year," he turns to a drawer to his side and tells us, we deserve "the good stuff."

King size Snickers for all. Faces immediately lit up. A reward? for the money the children had moments ago gasped that they had parted with. A blessing? the Bishop assured them paying tithing would bring.

Seven king size snickers, yet Joshua still requested the sucker he had been eyeing for the previous ten minutes.

Ellie's (lack of) gratitude as we drove home was, "I really wish he'd given us each one for how old we are. Then I would have five for me."

Joshua's genuine kindness, "I will hold Dewie's. He can eat it next year."

I've always believed tithing blessings come in all shapes and sizes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Our standard format, State of Our Union Christmas letter (categories change over the years) for the EIGHTH year!
(Which I am flattered to add, have had a few friends copy for their own Christmas letters.)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Honesty

To make kind of a long story short...

An old friend recently put as a status update on Facebook, that she was decorating gingerbread ornaments with her children. Though I did not comment on her status, her sister did. Her sister's comment was something along the lines of it making her feel not as good of a mom. I thought the EXACT SAME THING!

WHY DO WE DO THAT?

I love reading this old friend's blog. She is beautiful, a fabulous writer, has a gorgeous family, takes beautiful photos, etc. etc. etc. Sometimes I fall into that thinking trap, "Oh she has it all together."

WHY DO WE DO THAT?

Well, in response to her sister's Facebook comment, my friend did a whole blog post confessing her inadequacies as a mother. It is very well written. So true. So honest. I laughed at some, I almost teared up at others. Her honesty was so real.

It really got me thinking...

Just last week, I had somebody say to me,
"I want my family to be just like yours one day."

I smiled, and graciously accepted the compliment.
Who.Am.I.Kidding?

So, in the true spirit of mothers sticking together, I, like my friend will be a little bit honest. Here is a small sample of last week and then you can really see if you want your family to be like mine one day.

Here you go.

-While playing a game with the children, tweak the money just a bit so mom will soon lose and game will soon end...

-Figure whilst crawling around on the floor, the baby got enough crumbs leftover from last nights meal that it will replace the need to feed him breakfast

-Dig fingernails slightly into child's hand for added effect while dragging child to their room.

-Ignore seven phone calls from children during a Stake Conference meeting...

-Upon arrival home, find out reason for seven missed phone calls, because middle child pulling down underwear and dancing

-Only reason shower finally got cleaned after SIX WEEKS was because child tells me "it looks really gross and really needs to be cleaned"

-D#@$ it could be heard loudly, repeated three times as dirty socks left on the stairs were thrown at guilty child...

-Evening dinner: cheese and crackers

-Tell husband to shut up while he is doing a favor for me

-Feel slight disappointment instead of sheer joy(?) when baby's nap-time is over.

-Allowed two-year old to eat five candy canes in a row before 9:30am

Now. Do you really want your family to be just like mine one day?

Kudos to my friend for so bravely being honest. Women need to be honest far more often. No matter what image we might be trying to portray, none of us have it ALL together!

(Keep up the GOOD work mothers.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nostalgia

The Christmas season always makes me think of Christmases of the past. Specifically, Christmases as a child. My Christmas memories are filled with joy, happiness, tenderness and excitement. I was blessed to have magical Christmases, and find myself hoping I am instilling these same memories in my own children.
Christmas time especially makes me think of loved ones no longer with us. I have found myself on several occasions already this holiday season, blinking away tears as I think of them. I thought aloud to my mother the other day, how I wish we could blend past and current generations together. (...one day...)

Nostalgia:

"a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time:"

So in my current state of nostalgia, I will return in thought to Christmases past.

*Shopping in the high street with one parent then switching.
*Loving the Band Aid song and Dad buying it on record for me and my brother, Matt.
*Making Christmas crackers with Granny
*Having The Brains over for Christmas Night
*Looking out my brother's bedroom window and KNOWING I saw the lights of a sleigh.
*Always sleeping in the same room as my brother on Christmas Eve
*Granny riding my new bike in the front garden
*Feeling the weight of a filled stocking at the foot of my bed
*Granny snoring on the couch while we played with our Christmas treasures
*A tin of Quality Street under the tree
*Christmas card table at the church
*Mary and Joseph Journey to Bethlehem Advent

These are just a few of my random, favorite Christmas memories. ...Makes me wonder what my children will remember most about Christmas...

What do you remember most?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Day

My baby brother has a baby!!!!
One by one as my kids woke up, I showed them this photo on my computer.
Megan's response was a little dance and a squeal.
Luke's response was a puzzled 'who is that' followed by a big smile as he figured it out.
Joshua's response to Luke telling him it was 'Annie' was "No, it is Dewie."
Ellie's response was a big grin followed by, "Oh, Cousin Baby"

Welcome to the world Baby Annie!!!!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hungry AND Cold

When a family is used to a homecooked breakfast each weekend, Fast Sunday is not a pleasant day at our house. This being the first Fast Sunday since Luke's baptism, we asked Luke to please participate.

He was not happy. He was MAD! His reaction, in the 'Luke tone of voice' was,

"Fine. If I have to fast, then I'm going outside to shovel the snow."

He was out there for a long time. I went out to check on him to make sure he hadn't frozen to death. (It was 8:30am and well below freezing.)

Now, I know it wasn't a major snowstorm, but still...when I went outside, our driveway was shoveled, the next door neighbor's driveway was shoveled, the sidewalks were shoveled and he was on the second neighbor's house.


I just chuckled, grabbed my camera and thought,

"What a good kid!"

Big deal if he doesn't put his whole heart into fasting when he's eight...

I don't know a single other eight year old kid that would shovel four driveways and the sidewalks at 8:30am in the FREEZING cold without being asked.

And his reward?

When he returned inside, freezing and cold, his mother refused his request for a cup of hot chocolate.

(I'm still second-guessing that motherly decision!?!?)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Day Is Done

A tipped over Christmas tree...
Meeting with principal and school teacher...
Only 'clean' pants for two year old to wear came from dirty clothes hamper...
Major temper tantrum by child...
Five hour headache...
Piano lamp fell and burned piano teacher...
Crying on six separate occasions...
Phone call that I forgot to send an important email...
Two year old did not take nap...
Computer with PTA information broken...
Two hour dentist appointment...
Dinner eaten standing up...
School lunch balance in the red...


Somebody please tell me tomorrow can only be better.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ten Little Feet

This is what we found under our Christmas tree this morning.
New socks.
As Luke says, "It's the first day of Christmas!"
December is Christmas!
Merry December.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Random

(My computer died on Friday. I think it had something to do with user error...
So, unless Mike 'accidentally leaves' his work laptop home this week, I'll be out of the blogging/email/Facebook world for a few days. But don't forget the old fashioned way of telephone and visits... )

Enjoy our last week highlights...

Somehow during the complementary sled ride for little brother...little brother fell off...but no worries, big brother is still holding the BB gun case?!? A must when your sledding?!?

Thanksgiving lesson; Showing my brother how to make mashed potatoes...he couldn't blame anyone for any lumps except...himself!

Drew is standing up...where is my baby going?

Got to love two hours to myself on Friday afternoon while the kids went to a Gingerbread Party at Nana and Grandpa's.

Have a good week.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Random Thanks

Between Family Home Evening earlier in the week, a sponatenous family game, meal conversation at Thanksgiving dinner and miscellaneous conversations, here is the 2009 list of our thanks:

sunshine
gun
ears
that life isn't fair
family
days off of school
uncles
pantry full of food
grandparents
each other
choo-choos
education
butter on homemade rolls
Jesus
health
music
steady employment
friends
camouflage


...really, the list is endless.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Some Wishes Come True

As a young girl I loved baby dolls.
I.Loved.Them.
I loved playing house. I loved playing church. I loved pretending I was a mom. After a few years, I got tired of baby dolls, I wanted a real baby in the house. It took a while, but when I was eight years old, my mom finally brought home a real baby, my brother Casey. I loved him. I loved holding him, I loved playing with him, I loved him.

(Casey and Tiffany, March 1983)

Two and a half years later, when I was eleven, another baby came. My brother, James. I loved him too. Though I had grown out of the 'baby doll' stage by then, I still loved him. I used to feed him, I loved to hold him, I even potty trained him. I loved him.
(Tiffany and James, December 1985)


Today Ellie was holding Drew while he drank his bottle. He didn't want his nose picked and he didn't want to be held, especially precariously by a 5 year old.

Usually, I would say to Ellie "just put him down and let him be."

But not today. For some reason instead, my mind traveled back to myself as a child. I loved playing house with 'the real thing.' I loved holding my baby brothers. I remember pretending I was the mom. I wished I was the mom.

I couldn't wait to be a mom.

I couldn't wait to one day have a sick child want only me to hold them, like my brothers wanted my mom.

I couldn't wait to grow up and be cooking in the kitchen and have a baby/toddler cry at my legs to be held, like they did to my mom.

I know how Ellie's mind works. I've heard her play house. I used to do the same things. I know she dreams of being a mom too.

And though sick children needing to be held, and underfoot toddlers while cooking, are not always convenient...

My childhood wishes have come true.

I am a mom.

I have had sick children want only me to hold them and I have had children climb at my legs while I cook.

My most frequent childhood wish has come true. I am a mom.

I hope the same for Ellie (and Megan).
It is even better than playing house.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Five and a HALF

Apparently, when you are 5 1/2, blue eyeshadow is a must.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Life In A Nutshell


Megan recently received an "Immigrant Project" assignment from school. She has been instructed to write a report on one of her ancestors that immigrated from another country to the United States. She has chosen, none other than, Yours Truly...

Megan is a very intelligent girl. Since learning to read at age 31/2 she has always excelled academically in reading, writing, math, etc. She has however, needed some gentle nudging to begin this project so she is not rushed at the end. This evening she was told she needed to spend 30 minutes working on it.

It came as somewhat of a surprise to me after ten minutes on the computer she came to me and whined, "I can't think of anything else to write."

Megan recently achieved 55 words per minute in computer, so I figured she must have been typing quite fast to be out of information already.

I was shocked when I came to the computer and read:

'My mom Tiffany _____ immigrated from England. In 1974, my mom was born in Sutton England. Instead of being born in a hospital she was born at home. (My grandma, a.k.a. Nana planned that.) Visiting her granny (grandma) and grandad was one of her favorite things to do. She also played Monopoly with her brother Matt. She also went to the high street.'

And that my friends, is my life according to my 11 year old daughter.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Back For Another Year

Mike and I aren't late sleepers. In fact, 'sleeping in' for us happens once a week... Sunday mornings we stay in bed until about 8am. Between 7:15-8:00am, we usually have 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or even 5 children piled in the queen-sized bed with us. We listen to begging for the ever-popular 'all-in-one' breakfast. We listen to cries of, "I'm squooshed, there's no room for me." We listen to playing or fighting by some of the children in the nearby loft. We listen to more requests for breakfast. We ignore the never-ending question of "When are you guys going to get up?"

This morning it was quite uneventful. Joshua came in and laid with us first, and drifted in and out of sleep. Drew was cooing quietly in his crib. Megan was sleeping in. Ellie soon quietly came and crawled into our bed too. But Luke? Where was Luke? We knew he was awake, but we heard nothing from him.

The minutes passed. 8am came, 8:15am came. There were no requests for breakfast, no-one was getting squooshed, there was no one playing in the toy room. Before long, Megan joined us in the bed, carrying the now unhappy baby who was in desperate need of a diaper change. And in came Luke; seven people now piled on the bed. Luke's demands began. But there were no typical demands for breakfast. Instead it was,

"Everyone get out of bed, line up at the top of the stairs together and wait until I tell you to come downstairs."

The diaper change, the potty breaks, daddy getting clothes on, mom finding her slippers, were trying Luke's patience. But before long, our line was formed. Our descent was beginning. Luke ran ahead.

As we entered into the family room, from behind the couch, we hear Luke's animated, excited voice exclaim,

"It's Christmas. There's something for everyone." And then, in Luke's unique, off-tune, eight year old singing voice we hear, "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way..."

The singing continued while each of us observed the display of 'gifts,' by the homemade Christmas tree, and recently given Christmas candy cane decoration. Each gift had been carefully tied with leftover pink ribbon from yesterday's baby shower, and a Laffy Taffy thoughtfully placed on top.

The gifts; Dad's office chair for Dad, stack of Nana's borrowed china plates for Mom, the kid's chair for Ellie, Megan's school bag for Megan, and Joshua's tractor and train for Joshua and Drew.

(The homemade Christmas tree.)
Luke's singing (mixed with laughter) continued while we all laughed and smiled at Luke's creativity and excitement. (Poor Mike, he smiled and laughed so much his almost-healed-lip-cold-sore, split open.)

It looks like Mr Christmas has arrived in time for this year's holiday season.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

All In The Head

Apparently, Luke can 'choke down' cooked spinach if he doesn't have to see what he is eating. (And has a big drink of water close by.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A FHE To Remember

Tonight Ellie gave us the Family Home Evening lesson. While Ellie held up pictures, Megan whispered in her ears the correct things to say and Ellie told us the story of Lehi and Nephi's family sailing to the Promised Land. (Taken from the Book of Mormon.)

When the story was finished. Ellie asked Megan to sit down. Ellie cleared her throat, pushed hair away from her face and began 'her' synopsis of the previous told story.

"Laman and Lemuel and Nephi couldn't find the boat. They looked everywhere but they couldn't find it and the boat had to get to the kingdom. They wanted to build a temple and a boat, but they just had to build a boat all day. Then the boat and all of them 'drownded' and they got tied up and then they found their kingdom and the wind stopped."

After her story, Ellie was prompted to end with her testimony.

Again Ellie cleared her throat and simply stated,

"I believe we can go to the temple if we don't smoke. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Eternal Family

Today was our Primary Program. Each Primary child got to draw a picture that depicted their eternal family. The drawings were each copied several times and used as Sacrament Meeting programs. I thought it was a creative and unique idea.

Luckily someone had pointed my kids programs out to me soon after arriving... So I wasn't surprised when the Primary president approached me just before the meeting started and said...



"I love Luke's program, nothing says 'eternal family' like a gun."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Baptism Day

This evening Luke was baptized. Though this experience was VERY Different from Megan's Baptism, it was nonetheless a a very special occasion.

As we sat in the room waiting for Mike and Luke to change into dry clothes, I was overwhelmed with the love and support of our family and friends in attendance.

We are truly blessed to have the blessings that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings into our lives.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pretty in Pink

You'd think that after three boys. I would have got my money's worth out of a blue snowsuit...

But instead, the other night, Drew graciously wore the pink snow suit as his two brothers (and two sisters) had to before him...

(Joshua, December 2007, 8 months old)

(Luke, April 2002, 5 months old)
(Luke only wore it once, Joshua twice. As for Drew, well the cold weather is barely beginning...)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Birthday to Luke!

The camping theme birthday party was a big hit... roasting hot dogs, shooting homemade bow & arrows and playing games in a tent!
Thanks to Daddy and Melanie who had to step in and run the whole party, as Mom sat on the sidelines, thanks to the stomach flu!!
What do you get when Mom has the stomach flu and Nana, who is just two weeks past major surgery steps in and does the cake at the last minute?

You get a cake that probably turned out better than if Mom didn't have the stomach flu!!!
(Thanks Nana!)


Luke was in a hurry to get into this world.
Ten days early, and after an hour and half of P.A.I.N. and just seventeen minutes at the hospital, Luke made his entrance into the world.

He has been in a hurry to get the most out of life ever since.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY LUKE!!!
8 YEARS OLD TODAY!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Finished

Halloween Night

A Hairstylist, Winnie The Pooh, A Princess, A Hunter and...


... a chicken that had to have his photo taken alone...

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