Friday, November 26, 2010

A day full of thanks

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. The food was delicious and shared with all of my family. A perfect way to spend a holiday that is focused on blessings and gratitude.

The day started off cold and early for Gavin and the boys. Continuing in the tradition of running the Turkey Trot together. It's just never been this cold before. I checked online to see the current temperature as they were leaving the house for their run. 8 degrees. Brrrrrrr. I am not a fan of the cold. They all bundled up, all except for Jack who thought running would keep his legs warm. His first words when he walked in the house from his run, "My legs are swollen." Uncle Scott even pantsed him at the starting line and he was so cold he could barely move to pull his shorts back up.

Our traditional Thanksgiving Day family picture

My parents hosted Thanksgiving dinner at their house. Everyone was able to make it so my mom wanted to try and get a family picture while we were all together. We spent lots of time planning great outdoor locations but once we saw the weather forecast we decided to take an indoor picture before the feast. And I think we finally found a solution for getting small children to look at the camera. Put it on a tripod, set the timer and run to join the group. The adult behind the camera saying, "Look at me. Everyone say cheeeeeeese." Is nothing but a reason for them to look anywhere but the camera. We took about 20 pictures on the timer and all the kids were looking at the camera in all of them.

I am blessed with an amazing family! There's a lot of us (my parents, 5 siblings, 2 sisters-in-law, 2 brothers-in-law, 14 1/2 nieces and nephews, an amazing husband and 6 children) and we all get along and enjoy being together. Not every family can say that.

The night before Thanksgiving all of the cousins got together and made these cute turkey cookies for the table settings. We didn't have icing for the eyes and ended up having to use frosting gel. It made for some interesting eyes on our turkeys.

The feast was so yummy, I might even dare say the best food I can remember from a Thanksgiving dinner.

Griffin and Lilly talking turkey

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving day full of family and feasting!

No Black Friday shopping for me. My Christmas shopping can wait another day, a day when people are working and kids are in school. No Black Friday deal is worth having to wake up at 4 am and fight crazy crowds for some door buster prize. Although it's always a guaranteed good laugh and great people watching opportunity. We're off to fight the crowds at the theater. We're going to see the new movie, Tangled.

Monday, November 22, 2010

BYU and Allstate. A match made in heaven.

Gavin got to be part of BYU's football halftime entertainment this past Saturday. One lucky fan attempted a 25 yard field goal for $1000 from Allstate. The best part? He'd never played football before and he still made it!

Disclaimer: Gavin's a U of U fan.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ryan is TWELVE!

12 years old

He didn't want anything specific for his birthday so he got to be surprised birthday morning. A few books, Lego Hogwarts game, Nerf wii game (apparently a disappointment), Lego Star Wars ship, a new webkinz (my kids love playing webkinz online), Sponge Bob slippers (probably his favorite item) and pajamas.
He asked for a chocolate, caramel, heath cake ("BTS" cake) and then didn't even eat one piece. Claiming to not be a big fan of cake or ice cream. Luckily everyone else in the family is a big fan and ate it all gone.
His birthday was on Monday and we were trying to decide what we could do for his birthday and family home evening. Coming up with lots of great ideas . . . bowling, laser tag, movie. And then we remembered. We weren't going to be doing any of the previous exciting ideas. Instead we would spend his birthday night with his football team at his end of the season banquet.

His team sang Happy Birthday to him. At least I think it was to him. It sounded more like "Happy Birthday Dear Savy" (a combination of "Seal" and "Navy" his football nickname) than "Dear Ryan".

Speaking of football. He had a great season. His team lost in the semi-finals to Bingham. 13-20. He played Tight End and Corner Back and had a lot of great catches and touchdowns. His coach highlighted each player at the banquet and had this to say about Ryan. "Opposing coaches told us that all they did was watch out for "Navy". He had two to three guys guarding him out there. This kid could've played Running Back, Quarterback, Receiver, Tail Back but he fit in perfectly as one of our threats because we used the Tight End very aggressively in our game plan and he was perfect." It was fun to hear the opposing coaches yelling out to their team, "Watch out for Navy! Watch #19!"

Technically he didn't have a birthday party since I stop doing birthday parties after their 10th Birthday. But I think the only difference is that I don't worry about decorating the house in some sort of Birthday theme (Griffin did try to talk him into a Spiderman party and cake), making a cake, and putting together party bags.

He got to invite 6 friends to go to Incredible Pizza Company for laser tag, video games and buffet dinner. They would've had just as much fun playing in our backyard.

It was "Stomp out Drugs" week at his school and his birthday party was on the same day as wear your red school shirt and show school spirit.

Getting ready for the laser tag battle.
Enjoying the all - you - can - eat - buffet
Turning 12 brings lots of new responsibilities for Ryan. He graduated from Primary today. Earned his Faith in God award. And was ordained a Deacon today after church. He even went to Young Men's for the first time this week. It was a "Fast and Feast" activity. They met together on Tuesday night after dinner and started a 24 hour fast together. He fasted all of the next day and loaded his pockets with a can of Diet Coke and pretzels to eat once his fast was over. They all met together again on Wednesday night and had a testimony meeting together. Ryan said he wasn't going to share his testimony but then decided he really wanted to after hearing everyone else's testimonies and decided to share his. It amazes me to see my boys both fasting at this young age. It takes so much self discipline and strength. I was almost 20 years old before I even tried to fast for more than a few hours. After the testimony meeting they ended their fast with a huge feast.

Grandma and Grandpa Stewart came to the end of our church to be a part of Ryan's ordination. It was so neat to see all of those who came to support Ryan. His grandparents. His primary teacher, Brother McDonald who has been an amazing teacher to both Ryan and Jack. He did so much to help prepare Ryan for the priesthood. Teaching him to respect the scriptures; the symbolism of wearing a white shirt and tie; and being a great example to him. His future leaders, Brother Church and Brother Pohlman who have so much patience with these crazy young men. Our home teachers, Brother Weichers and Chase Weichers who also have a lot of patience with our family during their monthly visits. And our amazing Bishop Robinson whose love and concern for every member is transparent. Gavin gave Ryan a beautiful blessing and all of his younger siblings even sat quietly while they listened to it.

After church we had grandma and grandpa over for Sunday dinner. They got to cuddle with all of the kids on the couch and watch Toy Story 3 while I made dinner. Ryan's favorite . . . creamy corn chowder.

Ryan is in 6th grade and having a great year. He ran for student council this year and won! He is on the student council with one of his best friends, Tate Weichers. He had to give a speech to the 6th grade, promising great things if they voted for him. Something about how all of their wildest dreams would come true or something like that. He did promise lots of things, like new basketball courts with 3 point lines, better lunches, real soccer field goals, new softer chairs for all of the classrooms. I don't think he has actually accomplished any of those goals but he has helped make some posters for the candy drive, went to an all day leadership conference at BYU, and passed out the tiger pride awards at the assemblies (he was very excited when he got to give one to Morgan when she earned a tiger pride).

Ryan has been anxiously awaiting this post. Asking me everyday, "Have you done any new blog posts today?" And this is what he has been waiting for . . .

12 Things we love about Ryan:

1. He makes watching football both enjoyable and intense.

2. He has an unique sense of humor and keeps us laughing all of the time.

3. He has a tender heart and loves children. Always talking about how he wants to adopt a child with Down syndrome. He takes the time to notice his young cousins and play with them. Just the other day he was looking at his Aunt Brittany's blog and said, "Oh, I just think Abi is the cutest girl ever!" What other 12 year old boy would make a comment like that?

4. He loves the elderly. I had to stop to see a patient at an assisted living facility with Ryan in the car. He got so excited when he saw a few elderly people walking around the facility with their walkers. "Oh I would love to be able to work here and be around all of these old people all of the time! I think that would be the best job ever!" (We're still working on being a little more politically correct with his terminology and generalizations). I wish his great Grandma Norma was still here. He would've loved her and visiting her. He was only 5 years old when she died. I told him he didn't need to work at the nursing home but could just visit his grandparents. He let me know his grandparents aren't old like those people, yet.

5. He begs me to please have just one more baby. Did I mention he has a tender heart?

6. He is the biggest pester in the family. Sometimes I wonder if he wants one more baby in our family just so he has one more sibling he can bug.

7. He does well in school and is enjoying his time on the 6th grade Student Council.

8. He makes me feel like a great cook. He loves everything I make but only his favorites get "3 thumbs up" (Creamy Corn Chowder is currently his favorite) rating from him.

9. He's a BYU Cougar fan!!!

10. He has terrible luck with hamsters.

11. He's still playing the piano even though practice time is difficult to come by with all of his football and basketball practices.

12. He adds so much to our family! He missed 2 family vacations (St. George and Lake Powell) last month because of football games. Our family and trips just weren't the same without him!

We love you Ryan! Happy Birthday to you!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

He's Back!

We'd all given up hope. I had even convinced myself that I could smell a dead rodent in Hadley's playhouse under the stairs. We gave him food and water for one week but then he stopped getting the food and we just knew. . . he hadn't survived out of his cage. So we stopped leaving out the food and water. It had been 3 weeks and not one sighting. I literally lost sleep over the thought of that poor hamster. Stuck somewhere and not able to get out to get food and water. Then last night Ryan came running up the stairs, excited to tell us he had just seen "Flash" run under Jack's bed. We didn't believe him. We were in the middle of our Survivor party and the girls were up for the reward challenge of finding him. Kim wasn't even nervous to grab him with her bare hands. We looked under Jack's bed. No hamster. Took out the bottom drawer from their dresser and there he was -- hiding in the corner under the dresser. It took a few screams and unsuccessful attempts at grabbing him but we finally caught him and got him back in his cage.

I wasn't ever really worried about him finding enough food to survive. There's plenty of crumbs on our kitchen floor, just didn't realize there was that much food and water left around. He looks bigger than ever. Probably survived off of Jack's Halloween candy that's in a bag under his bed. Gross! I thought he'd be grateful to be back in his cage but I think he's just really mad. He was enjoying the free life!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mama and Mia

It really does seem to happen in a blink of an eye . . . one minute you have your little newborn cradled in the nook of your arm and the next minute you're sending them off to junior high. I still feel like Mia is my little girl but she is growing up so quickly and the only thing slowing her down is me. I had the more difficult time giving up the bottle/sippy cup. I let her have them until she was 3o months old and decided to hide them all after a successful weekend vacation without them. It honestly hurt to put them away. Knowing she is my last one. Never needing to use them again. Bottles, sippy cups and diapers have been such a big part of our lives for the past 13 years that it seems strange to not have them around anymore. The bottles and sippy cups that is. Diapers and wipes are still a big part of our lives. She shows no interest in giving up diapers quite yet. I know. I tried.

She's growing up fast and I'm trying to enjoy every minute! She's doing all kinds of big girl things now and wants to do everything "by myself". She is almost 3. Her favorite new saying is "What the heck???" Makes me laugh every time and it's so much better than her other new saying, "you're stupid!" But my favorite thing is when we are driving and it's quiet in the car and she says, out of the blue, "I love you the most, mommy!" And I think she really does! She really is a mama's girl. I love it!

Wednesday mornings are all about Mia. All of the older kids are off to school and it's just the two of us left to enjoy the morning. She loves waking up on Wednesdays. "Mia, we have Musik Garden today!" "Musik Garden?" with a huge smile! And can you blame her? If you know Mia, you know she LOVES twirling, dancing, singing, playing and twirling. Did I mention twirling? Yah. This girl twirls and twirls and twirls. Every outfit has to pass a twirl test each morning before she will commit to wearing it.

Peek-A-Boo with scarves

Dancing, twirling, jumping!

twirling with her kid-sized hula hoop

Drumming and feeling the beat

After Musik Garden we walk over to this amazing pet store. The best thing about this pet store is that you can hold the kitties, puppies and bunnies. Mia's favorite is looking at the kitties.

My favorite is holding the bunnies.
We buy our 12 large crickets to feed Jack's White's Tree frog just in time to drive over to the library for story time.

Mia likes story time, but not as much as she loves the puppet theater at the library.
Yah. Wednesdays really are the best!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I'm having a hard time believing it's already November. Last month flew by. Busy. Busy. Busy. I love Halloween and everything that goes along with it. But am I the only one who feels like their home becomes a Halloween costume store during the month of October? The costumes seem to take over my home and life. Costumes and accessories strewn across every room. I'm always more than ready to put the halloween costumes away once it is over. I was so done with costumes this year that we didn't even dress up on Halloween. We trick or treated on Saturday (the day before Halloween) this year and enjoyed Halloween with my family on Sunday.

The kiddos -- dressed and ready to go!

Peter Pan Family
We don't always do a theme for Halloween but I love it when it happens to work out. Morgan, Griffin and Mia love everything "Peter Pan" and Hadley was excited about dressing up as Tiger Lily. Jack and Ryan already had other costumes they wanted to do with their friends and did their own thing. I think this year was my favorite year for costumes and the most economical. We usually end up spending $200+ on costumes (it's not cheap getting costumes for a family of 8) but this year we were able to borrow or put together all of the costumes except for Hadley's Tiger Lily and Mia's Tinkerbell. Thank you Steenbliks and Weichers for all of your help with our Halloween!

Right as we finished taking pictures of everyone in their costumes, the clouds started getting darker and darker. And then it happened . . . pouring rain. I really think there's nothing worse than trick or treating in the rain. We went to the Wilko's pre-trick or treating garage party and ran as quickly as we could from our car to the covered garage. Griffin played out in the rain with his friends while we stayed in the garage and enjoyed hot chocolate and hot dogs.

Hadley and Brinley

Jack, Logan and Jace all dressed up like the 70's. Remember all of those clowns in 70's!

The rain stopped just in time for trick or treating. It ended up being a perfect night for trick-or-treating with warm enough weather that only a light jacket was needed. Jack, Ryan and Hadley went trick-or-treating with their friends while we took the little ones around. They enjoyed every minute of it!

Love this picture of the kids because this is how they were at every house. Anxiously waiting for someone to come to the door with their treat.

We celebrated Halloween Night at my parents home with a yummy chili dinner. Then grandma made popcorn balls with all of the grandkids.