Dec 11, 2008

Christmas Letter

Our Christmas cards have been sent! Yahoo! I always enjoy sending out our cards and letters. I like to think that those who receive them enjoy our "Season's Greetings". :)
I figured the cost of our cards and stamps this year - yikes! I definately think that I will scale way back next year. It is hard, though, to decide who will be taken off the Christmas list. Well, I have a whole year to decide.
I chose to print our letter here at home instead of making copies. Of course we ran out of toner and don't have the $80 it takes to replace it, so I tried to put letters in the cards addressed to those who don't check our blog. If you get a card without a letter it is because you are of the elite group who get to read our letter on the blog. lol. And, really, if you are keeping up with us through the blog, then the Christmas letter will be nothing new to you. If you didn't get a Christmas card it is because we don't have your address. It is always fun to get regular mail, so send us your address and we can send you a card. :)


Season's Greetings to you!!
Dear Family and Friends,
Yep, it’s that time of year again – Christmas letters and cards are sent, lights are up, cookies are baking, shopping is done and most important of all, we slow down to reflect on the “Reason for the Season”. We are grateful for so many things this year. We are growing together as a family and that is reason enough to celebrate.
We continue to be grateful for Greg’s willingness to work hard for his family. He is still working two jobs (three in the summer when he cuts grass) and is enjoying both. Being a captain, he has decided, is much like being a father to a bunch of boys. His attention is in constant demand at the station, - he doesn’t get much reprieve when he is home, either. J He is still working at the City Recycling Center and was very grateful for the award his facility won this year. The state of Georgia awarded him and the center the “Keep Georgia Beautiful-Waste Reduction” award. It was a very neat deal. Greg is still in the bishopric and while that also takes up much of his time, he is quick to put family first when he needs to. He and Calvin are working their way through the Chronicles of Narnia and have almost completed the series. He is grateful for the time he has with Calvin and their deep discussions of what they have read. Greg is a wonderful dad.
I am grateful for my children and the constant reminder that I am not alone. I continue to be busy, but am being a bit more selective about the activities in which I am engaged. This summer Greg and I decided that we would homeschool the boys this school year. This was not an easy decision to make, but it is working out very well so far. We will take it year by year and see how much longer the Lord would like us to continue this venture of ours. This fall Greg and I coached Josh’s soccer team. That was quite an adventure, and one that we will not likely repeat for some time (at least not until Olivia is older). I am also grateful this year for apples! We ordered a few bushels of apples this fall and went to work canning. We have put up quite a bit of applesauce, apple butter, and apple pie filling. In addition to our usual strawberry and blackberry jellies, we also canned (for the first time) pear preserves with orange zest. Our pantry shelves are very pretty, I must say. J
Calvin is grateful for his extra time spent at home with the family. He is in fourth grade and is loving it. He feels very grown up to have his own fourth grade school books and understands that much is expected of him now that he is a big boy. He continues to enjoy reading books and has written many of his own books. He is also showing us his new-found entrepreneurial skills by constantly developing ideas on how to make money! He played soccer this fall as well and is now in karate with Josh. Calvin also became the very pleased owner of a set of braces this year. Each month he changes the band color to match something that is going on in his life. He is a very bright young man and is always amazing us with his memory and understanding. Many times he becomes my teacher as we discuss things in our day. He is wonderful.
Josh is grateful for his brother and sister. He continues to be a joy to our family. He is also developing a bit of a comedian side to him. He likes to make us smile and laugh and will often ask what he can do to make us smile. He is very genuine and feels a great deal for others. Josh is in first grade, but will soon be finishing a second grade math book. He is also working quickly through his first grade English and amazes us at his quick ability to comprehend what we are teaching him. Josh is a wonderful big brother and is very protective over Olivia. He is quick to offer his babysitting services when I need to get something done around the house, and keeps Olivia laughing and happy. He still has blonde hair, and insists that it will always be blonde – we are the parents of a blonde, a brunette, and a red head.
Olivia is a gem and we are quite certain that she is most grateful for her daddy. She loves to talk to him on the phone and certainly has a lot to say. She learned sign language this year (as her brothers did at her age) and mastered the signs for: milk, juice, water, please, cookie, bath, more, and potty (yes, she tells us when he needs a diaper change). Now that she is talking more, her signs are naturally disappearing. We are sad to see them go as it means that she is growing up more. She is 18 months at the time of this letter, and has truly blessed our family during her short time with us. She has reminded us to slow down and to be more gentle with one another. Her sweet feminine spirit is also showing through in her need to nurture her baby dolls and her family.
We are very grateful this year for prayer. Our theme at the beginning of 2008 was: Prayer is great in 2008. Indeed it is. We love the gospel of Jesus Christ and we love the promise we have to be an eternal family. We are most grateful for the Savior and his gifts to us. We know that He lives and we know that He loves and cares for us.
We wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas season – full of charity and peace.

Homeschool: Our Night in Nigeria

Calvin studied Nigeria in Geography, so we called upon an expert to round off the unit study.

A man in our ward is from Nigeria, and his family hosted us over for some culture. :) We made our own Nigerian flags and brought them with us. We also learned the children's names in Nigerian. When I round up that information, I will post it as well. :)

First, we saw the wooden bowls used to make their food (no food processors there). CS added Plantains and Yams and then some Palm Oil. Everyone tood turns mashing the food.

This was a very tasty dish - I am anxious to try it here at home. The wife of the family (JS) told us that when her parents were serving their mission in Nigeria, her mom would wake up at 4:00am to hear the women of the village pounding their food in their wooden bowls. They did this early on "Temple days" because the distance to travel to the temple was pretty great, so they made enough food to last them the whole day.

We ate the plantain/yam dish, coconut rice (YUM!), and catfish stew (YUMMMM!). We had tons of fruit as Nigerians eat that a lot. They don't typically have desserts, so we brought some ginger cookies (and fried chicken!). :)

This family even let Calvin try on some traditional clothing. CS put on his wardrobe as well. Doesn't Calvin look cute?

We leared about the soap they used (the big yellow block Calvin is holding is soap)

We saw a raw coconut (I never knew that the coconuts we see in the store is actually the coconut SEED!) Cool, huh? OH, and those things are heavy! In California, they employ young boys to climb trees and knock cocnuts down so they won't hit people on the head when they fall.

These are some very cool carvings that JS's parents brought back with them. They show traditional Nigerian life.

What wonderful people. We had a great time - we even got to see CS do a traditional Nigerian dance. I tried . . . tried being the word of the day. I don't think my hips are made for that kind of dance. :)

Mischief Managed

Harry Potter fans!!!
I love this shirt - I had it custom made for my little run-around. It is perfect and what is best of all is that not everyone can appreciate it! lol. Only the cool people will know why this shirt is so cool.
Want one for yourself? visit and send them a message asking about a shirt - long sleeved is available as well.
How cute is that???

Homeschool Days

Teacher Liv! She watches everything we do and often (as most kids do) will emulate it. I had been teaching Josh to tell time to the nearest 5 minutes and it seems Liv watched me. I found her sitting in my chair holding up the clock for the boys to see. She was "asking them" what the time was. They plated along and she was delighted. It was very cute.

P.E.! We played Marco/Polo with Greg one night. I think Calvin was cheating by standing on the couch - but Greg found him anyway. :)

A lesson in CONstruction....
A Lesson in DEstruction. Liv attacked the school room one day (wait, that's everyday!).
I have more photos to post - - I just have to get them off of the camera. :)


First, the many colors of fall:

These photos are a little late, but here they are:
Handmade turkeys for Art!
I was out of butter as I made the Candied Sweet Potatoes . . . what do I do?? I make my own butter, of course! Isn't it pretty? :)
Our "spread".
Those who know my family can will know whose plate this is!
Now THAT is a nice plate of food!!

Firefighter's wife 2

I thought I would add another bit to the post below "You know you're a FFs wife if . . . "
Your husband has had "one of those calls" and calls you on the phone at 3am just to hear your voice and asks you to check on the children. Or, if you are too tired to talk, he just wants to listen to you breathe.
**I love those early morning calls.

Dec 8, 2008

A Firefighter's Job

Here is a link of a post I started a while ago but just finished.
Greg has a collection of the fires he has attended - these are just a few.
Acutally, he has a wall at the station dedicated to these photos. He is in "competition" with C shift to see who can get more photos up on their walls.

You Know You're a Firefighter's Wife If . . .

You Know You're a Firefighter's Wife If:
You know what IFSTA, IAFF, SCBA, WSFTA, and ARFF stand for.
You can tell the difference between a house fire and a woods fire simply by the way they smell.
You know what kind of shift your husband has had simply by smelling his hair when he comes home and wraps his arms around you.
Your Husband's wardrobe looks like this: non-descript bottoms paired with any navy blue shirt/sweatshirt with a fire department logo on it.
You know that it takes an average of 2 washings to get the smell of smoke out of his uniform.
You know the difference between a police siren and a fire siren.
You see your husband tear up when he thinks of 9/11, even though he knew none of the firefighters on scene.
You have a collection of melted fire gear on display at your house - and a story to go with each one of them.
Your kids think the fire station is "Daddy's house".
You know that all of your smoke detectors work.
You know that you always have a team of highly-trained ems professionals at the ready (you know, in case a baby falls down the stairs or something).
You know that it is faster and waaaay better to take the ambulance to the hospital (NEVER go it solo, and actually WAIT in the waiting room!).
Your children can make good use of vaccuum hoses and rubber gloves.
Everybody knows a Firefighter, and will asume that you know them too.
You find it hard to sleep when your Hubby is at work.
You get severly angry when people don't pull over for firetrucks and ambulances.
You get to listen to stories about fires, mva's and in my case, sprinkler systems.
You've had some of the best holiday meals at the fire station.
You've lost all sense of what a "weekend" really is due to your husband's crazy schedule.
Your husband gets to go on field trips & preschool once in a while.
All of the teachers want your husband to "demonstrate" his skills for the class (yeah, right she just wants to see him in his bunker gear).
You feel like the luckiest girl alive when he comes home off shift and sends your heart a-flutter.

Dec 2, 2008

Elder Wirthlin

SALT LAKE CITY 2 December 2008 Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, the oldest living apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died last night, age 91.

Elder Wirthlin had gone to bed at his Salt Lake City home, and died peacefully at about 11:30 pm of causes incident to age. His oldest daughter, Jane Wirthlin Parker, was present. A member of the family had been staying and caring for Elder Wirthlin, whose wife, Elisa Young Rogers Wirthlin, died in 2006.

He had continued to work at his office right up until the Thanksgiving holiday.

How many of us have watched him at Conference lately and just wanted to hug him and tell him how much we love him?
It is exciting, though, to think that he is with his wife. I can only imagine the "homecoming" of apostles and prophets. I am sure it is a beautiful thing.


Josh is always keeping us on our toes. He asks the most odd questions. I have started writing them down so we don't forget them. His latest ones are:

"Dad, why do robbers drive green cars?"
??? huh ???

"Mom, what would you do if I jumped off the roof?" I don't remember my reply, but he had a solution to my shock: "What if I landed on a pillow?"

This one still has me laughing (he asked us just last night):
"Dad, could we swallow our lungs if we threw them up?"
?!? what ?!?
Greg replies, "I don't think so. Your lungs are pretty big things and your throat is kind of small . . . I guess if you chewed your lungs up into little pieces you could swallow them."
To which Josh exclaims, "No! If you did that you would die!"
As though losing your lungs in a bout of vomit wouldn't kill you first off.

Oh, Josh.

Nov 16, 2008

Great quote

Some men are willing to die for their faith, but they are not willing to fully live for it.

Christ both lived and died for us

President Ezra Taft Benson

Nov 2, 2008

Escape Artist

Okay, so she is not escaping in this photo, but she is trying a juice box for the first time. I thought it was a cute photo.

NOW, my blurry baby is about to escape.
Liv loves her "bab" - anything silky is a "bab". Above happens to be a white slip.

We promptly lowered her mattress to sit on cinder blocks and wood. If only she wasn't so tall.....
FYI - we had her check up last week, and for those who are interested . . . she is in the 98% for height. Yeah!
Weight is only 75%, but I'll take it. lol.
*I heard a first-time-dad talking in the hall at church about his strapping baby boy and was just glowing about the fact that his son was in the 77th percentile of height. Yeahhhhh, I just wasn't feelin' it. No, KBB, I didn't say anything to him. I let him have his moment (just like I do with moms who brag about their big ol' 8lb babies). he he.
*Why do moms talk about their baby's height and weight? ha ha. Really, is it bragging? Is it just a matter of curiosity? I dunno, but we do it.
For those of you who don't have kids but read this anyway - - just wait. You'll be talking about it too - and you'll understand what it means by then as well. :)


Each year we make two trick or treating stops: My mom's and Greg's parents. This year we also threw in a trunk or treating at a local church (not ours, just one down the road).

Trick or treating at Grandma's

Trick or treating at Nana and Grandaddy's

Greg's grandfather came to see the little trick or treaters and gave them money! How's that for some loot?! :)

A pirate, a lady bug (with fairy wings), and a pumpkin
Liv is only three months older than the other two girls, but look how tall she is!
She is just so dang long. :)

Whooo is that glowing pumpkin?
That is Liv's BFF. Isn't she a doll??

Church fall festival with our annual chili cook-off. Greg is such a good daddy to fix his little girl's anntenae. :) By the way, we borrowed Liv's costume from a cute little girl in our ward. That is one way to save money!

Greg and I both dressed up as firefighters (creative, I know). He looks much better in the turnouts than I do so I won't post a photo of me. :) No one will care about this, but see the flashlight on Greg's coat? That was his Christmas present last year. That sucker cost us $70! It is a super halogen, blah blah blah flashlight with a output of 60,000 candles (or something like that). I surprised him with it - what a gift! Anyway, it reportedly cuts through smoke really well - glad to know I am furthering G's safety.

Photo update

These are out of order, but the just is: misc photos of Olivia.
Photos from Dallin's 4th birthday party a few weeks ago.

Playing in the salt . . . always fun.
Liv pours salt into her cup . . . takes a "sip" . . .

What a pitiful face!

This is Liv's own doing. She is listening to classical music (she requested the headphones and even the CD) and sat down with a National Geographic magazine and thumbed through it for a while.

It is blurry, but hopefully you can see the SUDS in our washing machine!!! All that white stuff . . . suds. Not a good thing. We could literally scoop them out and throw them into the air as fluff. I think that Tide and vinegar is NOT a good combination for washing.

This CUTE personalized bib came from

I was able to pick out my own fabric and initial. I love it!

(shamelss plug for my sister's shop, I know)

A rare shot of Aunt Mari with Dallin and Abby.

She was the one to bring bread - the moms of the group completely forgot about it.

Aunts ARE good for something. :)

Watch out, Voldemort (nope, I'm not afraid to say his name!). lol. Jan and Eric came down for Dallin's birthday party. Aunt Mari surprised all three nephews with Practice wands of their own. (really, we don't believe in witchcraft, but a true Harry Potter fan would appreciate a little wooden stick to "swish and flick") :)
Nice food on Josh's face - that kid is always sporting his latest meal.

Liv caught RED HANDED after her wall marking incident (see post below).

Liv found a booster seat that we save for Dallin and Abby company. It is the right size for her and has become her little chair.