Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas to all!

Well we have had a busy holiday season so far!
Holidays with a big family can be crazy. Organized chaos is the best we can hope for.
Sorry for the lack of witty commentary, but I'm battling a nasty cold that Santa left me. The best you are going to get is the highlight reel. Sorry.

BUT as a fun little shout-out: I wrote an article for a local super-cool magazine. SO check it out! Locals can find it in several businesses around town:

If you are still here after that exciting are the highlights of Christmas season 2012!

Brayden was in a school musical. They did the 12 Days of Christmas, but a funkified version. It was very cute. He was one of the 10 lords-a-leaping. 
(Brayden and friend pictured)

Gabe also had a Christmas musical for his preschool class. They did a mix of Christmas songs including the ever-popular hits "Where is Santa", "Little Miss Muffet", and "Jack Be Nimble". 

(Not Christmas related, but Gabe decided to get into my make-up, as usual. I couldn't resist to snap a pic. He was so proud of himself)

Grandma came to visit after her successful surgery. Here she is just a few hours later, already bouncing grandkids on her knee (well maybe more balancing then bouncing going on).

Next we went to the day after the Christmas lighting in Leavenworth, WA. The day of was packed. 

First night of Christmas lighting: 

We went the next day...much better. Its like Santa's village. I love it there!

Next was the church Christmas party. Daddy had to work, so I did it solo. It worked okay with a buddy system, but soon I lost them all in the hallways playing tag. Oops. Thankfully it was soon time to go following the church hallway tag game.

Gabe and Santa!!

Abby, Billy Jr and Santa. Abby's first time with Santa. She didn't care at all. She was more concerned with posing for the camera, as usual.

Then later in December we got to visit Nana and Papa, as well as Auntie and lots of Uncles, also Great Grandpa was there too!  

(Brayden and new sweet baby cousin)

Gabe was in happyland with his Buzz Lightyear costume and My Little Pony.

Abby and Uncle Sam

Okay, now onto Christmas. For the first year we started a new tradition. Tired of the previous Christmas pasts with Christmas morning photos of half-naked kids or ratty pajamas, we decided to buy them all new pajamas to open Christmas Eve and wear Christmas morning. Yay! Each was hand selected, by me, for each child's personality. :)

(Waiting patiently for their gift. They didn't know it was CLOTHES yet)

Abby with her pajamas!

Boys opening their pajama gifts:

Gabe LOVED his "Wii Mario" pajamas and insisted on a picture in front of the tree. He calls all Mario things "Wii Mario" because he first learned about Mario from Wii Mario Kart.

The whole family, almost, in Christmas PJ's. It went over pretty well. A little fussing that it wasn't toys, but the boys loved their personally picked out pajamas. I wasn't wearing mine in this picture, however, because everyone decided to get dressed right there in the main room. I was busy helping the little boys and before I knew it, it was picture time. The boys don't have much patience for picture time.

Christmas morning I took video. pictures. (Yeah after all that Christmas PJ talk!)

But here is some of the aftermath.

Brayden on his new pogo-stick...

Billy Jr with his "real tool" belt and set. He LOVED it.

And...because I can't resist it. A shameless Abby photo series...

Merry Christmas to all!! I hope your holidays were just as grand. Now I'm looking forward to a fun and exciting new year. Check back soon for our BIG family New Year's Resolution. Yikes!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Talking to your kids about tragedy

Children being taught what to do in case a gunman comes into their school - It just doesn't seem right that we should even have to think of such horrors, much less have them actually happen.

Instead of my usual cheery post I want to just take a little time to recognize those sweet children who were lost in Newtown, Connecticut last week. I look at my own kindergartner and I can't imagine the type of monster it would take to hurt such innocent young children, babies even still.

The shooting was the only thing on my mind last week, so I was surprised when picking up my kids from school that day they had heard nothing about it. The schools here are taking the stance that it should be kept quiet and not openly announced in school, although counselors are standing by for those who need it.  My boys had heard nothing of the school shooting although keep it quiet for too much longer would be impossible.
I discussed it with my older boys who would understand. My 13 year old couldn't even fathom such a think and didn't even know what to say or think about it. Kids shouldn't have to deal with this kind of tragedy. Then with my 10 year old, his first reaction was what he would do in that type of situation. That's the kind of person he is. He says if he was there he would have ran right up to the gunman, karate chopped him, and taken his gun. Or else he would have jumped in front of the other kids so that they wouldn't have gotten hurt.  I told him there is great honor in being a hero, but that sometimes the best way we can help is to stay out of the way and hide.
It felt so wrong as a parent to even have to tell my children about such horrific events. However, I would want my children to know what to do in case it ever happened in their school.

Our school district recently sent out a letter to all parents regarding this horrible tragedy. Here are the safety precautions our schools take:

1. Monthly safety drills consisting of shelter in place, lock downs, and evacuations.
2. Common safety flip charts posted in all classrooms and offices.
3. Use of red and green colored paper indicators in windows or outside doors to indicate all is well (green) or assistance is needed (red).
4. Unannounced safety drills where students and employees are purposefully hidden and staff must work to identify who is missing.
5. Use of the Threat Assessment Process when a threat is identified in an attempt to substantiate, or dismiss a threat.
6. Employee photo identifications have been provided and all employees are asked to wear these during work to assist parents in recognizing staff and identification of employees and non-employees during an emergency or drill.
7. Safety vests have been purchased last month and will be distributed to all employees once they are received. These will be for employees to wear during a drill/emergency to assist parents, emergency, and medical personnel in identification or employees and non-employees.
8. A new administrator supervisor safety flip chart is in draft and has been distributed to all supervisory level employees. The chart provides greater details for responsibility and activities during an evacuation and reunification with parents.

Further, here are links to help with more questions:

1.  A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope, from the National Association of School Psychologists
  2.  Talking to Children About Violence, National Association of School Psychologists    
  3.  Listen, Protect and Connect: Psychological First Aid for Teachers and Schools

In closing I want to just say that we believe, my family and I, that those sweet innocent children went straight up to heaven to wait for their parents to join them someday. They are safe and protected now. My prayers go for the families left behind and the tragedy they are living with.

Here is a sweet poem I found online to end with:

“T’was eleven days before Christmas
Around 9:38,
When twenty beautiful children
Stormed Heaven’s gate
Their smiles were contagious
Their laughter filled the air,
They could hardly believe
All the beauty they saw there!
They were filled with such joy
They didn’t know what to say,
They remembered nothing
Of what had happened earlier that day,
“Where are we?” Asked a little girl,
As quiet as a mouse,
“This is Heaven!” declared a small boy,
“We’re spending Christmas at God’s House!”–Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Decorating for Christmas

Its that time again! Christmas is fast approaching. We are all hoping this Christmas will be better then last Christmas! Spending the holidays in a hospital is never fun.

We always decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. That way we get a whole month of Christmas fun.

The boys look forward to setting up the Christmas tree every year.

Billy Jr picking out Christmas ornaments. 

This is what excitement looks like!

And a little sibling drama...Owen complaining that Brayden is taking too many ornaments.

The boys trimming the tree.

Alex is getting SO tall! He helped Billy Jr put the star on the tree this year.

I caught Alex being silly with the ornaments...I think he was pretending it was a grenade. Boys...

See even big boys get excited about Christmas.

Gabe, who's wearing an ornament around his neck as a necklace, is loving decorating the tree.

Brayden being silly. I have an exact same picture of him wearing ornaments on his ears from two Christmas' ago, but I can't find it.

And of course, the little boys didn't quite understand. They thought Santa was coming THAT night. So the next morning Billy Jr woke up, ran to the tree, looked around it, under it, and behind it. Then he went crying to daddy that Santa didn't come. When daddy told him that it wasn't until another month that Santa would come, he cried harder saying, "That will take forever!".

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Family Vacation

Oops a wee bit late posting this - however I had a ton of photos to go through!!
(Caution - photo heavy post!)

We rarely go on family vacations because traveling with five or six kids is hard! Hotels usually don't allow too many kids in one room and its just expensive for food, gas, attractions. Yowza!

This year, however, we decided to take a family trip to Bremerton, Washington to visit my sister and her new baby. 

We also took in the sights of the area. Bremerton has a neat ship that you can tour. It was an actual Navy Destroyer from the Vietnam war. The U.S.S. Turner Joy has now been retired and used as a floating museum. 

The boys LOVED IT! I'd rate this as a MUST DO on your "Things To Do In Bremerton" case you have such a list. 

It was  self-guided tour and much of the ship was available to crawl in, around, and on. to the pix!

Scuba Billy

Even Alex had fun in the Naval  Museum playroom

Scuba Owen

Brayden playing dress-up

Owen playing dress-up

...And Abby too!

Brayden posing

The boys playing in the fountain thingy

Brayden thought these statues were pretty cool

The family posing in front of the ship

Billy Jr

On the ship..going down below deck

Billy Jr in the sleeping quarters

Brayden loved the bunk beds

Billy Jr did too

...And Gabe too

Triple decker bunk beds...hmmm I think we should get some for the boys!

Owen in the engine room

The boys were in awe

The jail for prisoners. Cool!

Billy Jr in front of the medical room

At the front of the ship

The steering area? For lack of better term...

The U.S.S. Turner Joy!